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Small Islands Voice Global Forum

Islanders should never become complacent about water

The practice of collecting rainwater is carried out in many small islands around the world, yet this is not always an answer to water shortages.

From Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean, Alex Perrine writes: One of our main problems in small island states is the shortage of water. Water is getting rare and thus causing an increase in poverty. I am a social worker and have participated in a community-based rainwater harvesting project that enables each household to have a water tank and other accessories to collect water.

This view is echoed by K. Pillay from Seychelles (Indian Ocean): Our view about water supply in the small islands states is that they must be introduced to rainwater harvesting. We are facing water cuts now. The rainwater harvesting programme should be subsidised by the United Nations. Many small islands states are facing economic crises and cannot invest in such programmes themselves. We request you organise a conference to discuss problems and solutions to water scarcity.

But as Carol Busby from Cayman Brac (Caribbean) writes, it is first of all necessary to have the rainwater to collect: I live on Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands and we used to rely on rainwater collected in cisterns under the houses, and on water from wells. In 1989 a reverse osmosis plant was put in. But I still rely on the rainwater collected in my cistern. However, since September last year we have not had any significant rain and I have had to buy water every five weeks from the water plant at a cost of US$ 87 for 2,500 gallons. This is a serious drought and I have lived on Cayman Brac for 14 years.

Mark List, living on a barrier island in Florida (USA), gives a different perspective: I really enjoyed reading your article on collecting water. It's been many years since I've had to worry about such things, and yet it should be foremost in my mind. Water is one of our most important subjects. For us living in southwest Florida we've lost touch with it because it (water) is so readily available to us. And yet there is an underlying problem with our complacency. I produce an island newspaper and I try to educate my readers all the time about how quickly we are polluting this resource that comes from Lake Okeechobee.

And returning now to Fiji, where this discussion topic originated, Solomoni Biumaiono writes: I would just like to add some comments to the ones made already. Water in Fiji is not really the problem. We have more than enough water sources from which we can obtain clean and safe drinking water. The only problem is the water distribution system that our Government uses to deliver it to the public. Itís a relic of colonial times when the population in Suva was below 20,000. Now the population is nearing the 100,000 level, and the demand placed on these old pipes and mains has worsened the problem resulting in low water pressure, burst mains and leakage. Another factor that has placed a huge strain on the water distribution system is the existence of squatter settlements, which have increased in recent years as the rural to urban migration continues at an increasing pace compared to the 1980s and 1990s. However, Government has been upgrading its water system to cater for this increased demand and has constructed more reservoirs and more water mains. The problem in Dokaisuva is not a unique one but rather a result of poor planning over the years but at least things are now underway and Government had obtained a loan from the Asian Development Bank to ease the water shortages in the Greater Suva area.

Messages In This Thread

Water cuts normal for consumers in Fiji
newspaper article -- Tuesday, 5 April 2005
Collect rainwater while you can
S. Kauka, L. Mataitini, M. Prasad, and Sharon from Mauritius -- Tuesday, 19 April 2005
Islanders should never become complacent about water
S. Biumaiono, K. Busby, M. List, A. Perrine, K. Pillay -- Tuesday, 3 May 2005
Safeguarding water resources
I. Economides, R. Prayag, P.Sweeting, B. Tanaki -- Tuesday, 17 May 2005
From planting trees to seeding clouds Ė saving precious water
S. Biumaiono, A. Coro Antich, V. Tatayah, E. Taylor -- Tuesday, 31 May 2005
Solutions to Fijiís water woes
Forum respondents -- Wednesday, 15 June 2005

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