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Advancing the conversation: making RISE infrastructure sustainable in Fiji

30 August 2019

This month, community representatives came together with RISE Fiji partners the Water Authority of Fiji, the Department of Water and Sewerage, Suva City Council and NRW McCallan, to learn about the technical components of RISE’s infrastructure, and continue discussions about shared responsibility for its maintenance, with a particular focus on the Tamavua-i-Wai demonstration project.

The two-day training on infrastructure operation and maintenance, part of the ADB Knowledge Support and Technical Assistance (KSTA) project, gave people a chance to get hands-on with the water and sanitation systems, which will next year be installed in the first group of settlements in Suva. Supported by RISE industry partner South East Water, it was a chance for participants to ask practical questions around operations and maintenance.

After opening remarks from the Ministry of Waterways and Environment and the Water Authority of Fiji, participants broke into groups to brainstorm, filling butcher papers with different ideas of who maintenance responsibilities might lie with.

One of the most important factors for the longevity and success of RISE’s infrastructure is that there are clearly delegated responsibilities for who will operate and maintain the systems. The session sought to initiate these conversations with stakeholders, to see who people thought the activities would best sit with, and create an environment where everyone could workshop ideas about future arrangements together.

One community member at the training was representing her settlement, where she has lived for 40 years. She has seen first-hand the water and sanitation challenges her community faces.

‘Most of the homes [in my community] sit on reclaimed land. So they have their fair share of flooding when heavy rain is coupled with high tides,’ she explained. ‘Some residents use pour-flush toilets, and those who have flush toilets build their own septic tanks. They have to then bail out the tanks’.

The overarching message of the session was about sustainable infrastructure in Fiji. The community representative was able to voice her community’s needs during these discussions, but also learned about the ways government authorities could offer support as well.

‘Members of my community who really need sanitation facilities can benefit, and I’m looking forward to the impact that the technologies can have on the environment, and peoples’ health,’ she said.