Fiji’s water crisis: ‘A daily firefighting experience’ – CEO
22 March, 2023, 10:00 am
WATER Authority of Fiji chief executive officer Dr Amit Chanan described his one year on the job “a daily firefighting experience”.
Speaking at WAF’s Water Sector Strategy 2050 ideation workshop at the Holiday Inn, Suva, yesterday, Dr Chanan said he hoped to move away from firefighting to fire prevention by addressing Fiji’s water woes in a systematic manner with effective short and long-term plans.
“This has been an interesting ride, and a lot of these 12 months have gone in firefighting,” he said.
“Quite a lot of it in firefighting, by firefighting, I mean almost persistent daily challenges that pop up.
“So, if there’s anything that I’m hoping to get out of this personally, that is to create a water sector strategy that moves us away from that daily firefighting to fire prevention.
“If I can take that fire analogy a little bit further; what I’m hoping for the water sector strategy is to develop a strategy that puts the fire out and keeps it out. “That’s the vision we’d like to create.”
Dr Chanan said the biggest challenge for Fiji’s water sector in the lead-up to 2050 was climate change.
“We are an island state in the middle of the Pacific, whether it’s the intense rainfall which is already impacting on infrastructure, or rising sea levels and high risk of dangerous flooding and washing away of contaminants in rivers, hotter temperatures and lower summer rainfall, frequent droughts — we are already facing the brunt of it.
“We must include adaptation and mitigation measures of the ideas we come up with because that future is already here.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad said in the past five years, WAF had received a sizeable chunk of the national budget — a total of $1.12 billion.
His message to the CEO was — careful scrutiny and efficiency measures should be put in place to reduce costs and improve services.
The two-day ideation workshop gathered a cross-section of experts in the field of water services to discuss opportunities and a long and short-term strategy to protect, develop and diversify water resources in the country.