Fiji Red Cross’s first ever spring water protection project

Published: 11 November 2016 8:56 CET

By Seru Nasedra, Fiji Red Cross Society

More than 1000 people from four villages in Fiji’s Ra province have access to safe drinking water thanks to a joint initiative by the Fiji and Timor Leste Red Cross Societies, under the Tropical Cyclone Winston operation.

For the first time ever in rural Fiji, a spring-fed water system has been built, led by water and sanitation manager from Timor Leste Red Cross Society, Mr Joao Pinto Soares.

Mr Soares says the system is used commonly in Timor Leste, and he was pleased to be able to show his colleagues in Fiji how to carry out the process, starting in Naboutolu village.

“Back in Timor Leste we have protected around 104 spring catchments. Since Red Cross is one family all around the world, I’m happy and delighted to carry out this peer to peer exchange with Fiji Red Cross to build and incorporate its first ever spring water protection project,” Mr Soares said.

Naboutolu village was one of the worst affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston. It was selected for the project based on high vulnerability and needs. The distance from the spring to the village of Naboutolu is approximately 145 meters and the distance of gravity flow from the point of source to the far end village is five kilometres.

Mr Soares and a water and sanitation delegate from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Isara Iose, involved villagers in the building of the spring protection system, along with volunteers from Fiji Red Cross. After identifying the original mouth of the spring they tested whether the water pressure would be adequate after the filtration process.

“Then we dug five metres around the opening of the spring and one metre down. We protected the opening with a box and a PVC intake, so the source is fully covered and the water quality and safety is permanently protected,” Mr Soares said.  

Isara Iose says one of the advantages of this system is its low construction cost. “It’s also easy to operate and maintain, has a reliable water flow and no seasonal variations,” he said.

The villages Naboutolu, Veidoko, Namuaimada and Draunivau, home to approximately 308 households and 1,200 people, are presently drinking from the spring.

“They’re really pleased and thankful to Red Cross. We camped in the community which built good community engagement and partnership,” Mr Iose said.

Fiji Red Cross aims to include spring water protection as part of its recovery activities after Tropical Cyclone Winston. The next project will be implemented in the Northern division in a holistic approach with other specialty areas such as shelter, sanitation, psychosocial support, health and hygiene promotion activities.