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Construction imminent: Indonesia and Fiji set to begin building RISE infrastructure before year’s end

11 October 2021

After challenges and delays brought about by the pandemic, construction will soon begin on the water and sanitation infrastructure intervention in RISE’s first six informal settlement communities in Makassar, Indonesia and Suva, Fiji.

Strong safety systems and perseverance have been key to getting to this point, says Chief Investigator of Indonesia’s Build operations, Dr Ihsan Latief. ‘I believe it’s our COVID safety protocols, our safeguarding plans, and a commitment by our teams to deliver on what we promised for our communities that has ultimately enabled us to reach the point of being ready to build,’ he says.

Cities as partners for safe, sustainable infrastructure

The RISE approach to upgrading water and sanitation involves not just local council and regulatory approvals, but also the highest standard of social and environment safeguards to protect the rights and livelihoods of our participating communities.

Led by our local teams in Makassar and Suva, RISE is ensuring that every household provides free and informed voluntary consent for the infrastructure to be built in their communities. And we are making sure that we have covered all potential environmental and social impacts associated with construction, and that local officials understand and support our activities.

In Makassar, RISE construction managers and safeguards advisors have led briefings and workshops with City officials, including on Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA), which all departments recently signed off on.

Documents like the ESIA outline potential environmental and social impacts of the build, and the ways in which RISE is working to minimise and mitigate these impacts. They also cover protocols for engaging with communities, and the types of formal agreements with communities that will be in place prior to the start of construction.

Engagement happens at all levels of government – from seeking City approval for building plans, to aligning
RISE’s scale-up plans with national agendas for sustainable urban development.

For RISE Fiji Build Team Leader Iliesa Wise, it has also been important for the local government to have access to the technical plans themselves. ‘The City of Suva recently approved our functional designs showcasing the infrastructure we are planning for our first community,’ he explains. ‘Showing where our pressure sewers, septic tanks and wetlands will be built enables the government to have a much clearer picture of how land is being used, as well as water and sanitation coverage’.

Community consent at every stage

Securing fully informed consent at each stage of progress is a non-negotiable with the 24 communities in Makassar and Suva, who are partners in implementing RISE.

The Makassar team has been holding information sessions with the first six communities, seeking permission for RISE to construct infrastructure, for ongoing use of land for that infrastructure, and for permission to allow the City of Makassar to access the infrastructure for operation and maintenance into the future.

‘Without community consent and land agreements, we cannot put a shovel in the ground,’ says Dr Latief.

Carrying out meetings with small groups of residents at a time, the team has also used the opportunity to run through RISE’s COVID-safe protocols, so residents know what to expect during the build, and to distribute care packs to support families through the pandemic as well. The six ‘control’ settlements (who are due to receive upgrades in the second tranche) will receive their care packs shortly.

Architect and Community Facilitator Liza Marzaman and RISE Indonesia teams seek householder consent
under COVID-safe protocols, meeting with residents outside their homes where possible, and in small groups.

Enthusiasm has also been high from Suva residents for RISE to commence building in their neighbourhoods. Teams have met with the Community Engagement Councils (CEC) of the first settlements to discuss construction plans.

Capped gathering numbers have also required that some team members join meetings via Zoom, to make sure community questions about all aspects of the build can be answered.

Iliesa praised the team for their creativity and commitment to safe community engagement. ‘It’s been a fantastic effort with practical, COVID-safe ‘hybrid’ solutions for engaging with communities. The plans were received very well, and the CECs have given their full support and consent for us to proceed to build,’ he says.

Senior Co-design facilitator Alex Wilson (top) and Computer-aided Design (CAD) Manager Meagan Volau (bottom)
ensure community representatives are well-informed of build plans and the agreements that must be in place prior to construction.
Chief Investigator, Fiji Assessment, Autiko Tela (middle) supports by ensuring COVID safety protocols and measures are observed.

RISE will soon start the procurement process for construction contractors in both countries, utilising all local labour, equipment, building materials and wetland plants. This locally anchored approach is critical for capacity building and long-term sustainability, and for encouraging local ownership of the intervention now and for years to come.