Small Islands Voice Global Forum
Collect rainwater while you can
The article on the frequent water cuts in Dokaisuva, Fiji, brought in many comments and suggestions from other islanders. Here is a small sample.
Leba Mataitini from Fiji writes: Human beings need air (oxygen) to breathe, water to drink and food to eat in order to survive. Withhold any of these from them, and they start to feel various stages of discomfort and inconvenience. It is only when the supply of these necessities is cut-off that one can really appreciate the value of conserving them. I come from a very small island, Fulaga, on the bottom of the map of the Fiji Islands. There are no rivers and the only source of drinking water is the rain collected in water tanks. This also provides water for cooking, washing, and bathing in buckets. I grew up with water being a very precious commodity that has to be conserved. Leave the island and come into Suva where there are running taps for all uses including hose pipes to water the garden and wash the car, scrub the driveway and house walls, Luxury! With so much movement into, and population growth in urban and peri-urban areas in Suva and other towns in Fiji, water has indeed become a very precious commodity that needs to be conserved. Children must be taught from home, school and beyond that water is precious and must be used wisely. All homes should be assisted to own a water tank as a very basic necessity to store drinking water from free rain from heaven.
Sharon from Mauritius (Indian Ocean) provides similar advice: Itís very sad to hear that in Fiji there is a water shortage and that people are used to such cuts. Here in Mauritius, every personís house has a water tank to collect water and use whenever there is a water cut.
A different view on the situation comes from Mohini Prasad in Fiji: I reside in Sawani, past Dokaisuva (in Fiji), the place described in the previous article. I drive past this place on a daily basis and always see residents lining up along the main road to collect water from the tanker trucks. It is a common sight. But what is a sore sight is that at times I have seen these truck drivers driving their trucks to quiet places and draining the water from the water tank on the ground. I only wish I had a video camera on me at those times. I fail to understand what is causing the disruption in water supply. There had been some talk that there are only a few private contractors who supply water trucks. I wonder if the benefit gained by these contractors is contributing to the disruptions in the water service.
Several people wrote in with information on water services and sources in other islands, here is one view from Sabra Kauka, Hawaii: For many years I have thought that the availability of fresh water would be the determining factor in the carrying capacity of an island. However, two years ago I had the honor of visiting Saipan and learned that they have already exhausted their aquifer. Their freshwater lens has diminished to the point that saltwater now takes its place. Yet, they have many, many people living on Saipan. How do they do it? How do they support life on their island? They've turned to getting their drinking water by reverse osmosis. I never found out what they do with the salt that is removed in the process. Nor did I learn what their energy cost is. How long can an island sustain life by this means with the cost of fuel as high as it is? If there is anyone out there who can give me an answer I'd appreciate it. Meanwhile, collect that rainwater while you can. It is a gift of the heavens.
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