Yacata women celebrate

Salote Lakotani is all smiles after the opening of the village’s rain harvesting system as it will ease the water woes the villagers were facing. Picture: JOHN KAMEA

Women on the island of Yacata in Cakaudrovehave can now celebrate.

All homes except eight now have water tanks that are able to harvest rainwater needed for cooking, drinking and cleaning.

STC Winston flattened homes and blew away roofs when it ravaged Fiji in 2016, affecting villagers’ ability to harvest rainwater. Women, who depended on a steady supply of water daily, were the most affected.

But thanks to the intervention of the New Zealand Government, water supply to individual homes is nearing completion, boosted by the installation of water tanks in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Fiji under its community water program.

With funding assistance to the tune of about $17,000 the village’s rain harvesting capacity has been improved greatly to ensure better access to water.

This included repairing of roofs to install guttering and fascia board and connecting it to downpipes, enabling maximum water collection in storage tanks.

Other work included the construction of the village concrete tank basement, installation of PVC tanks and pipe fittings for majority of households.

“Inadequate water has been a chronic problem for us for as long as I can remember so having a tank in each house makes life easier, “Alefina Moala said.

“It will help mothers who need water daily for their families’ washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking needs.”

For Lanieta Paloto, access to water, which was a persistent challenge in the past, will now provide a better quality of life for her family.

“Our water problems will ease now. As a housewife that means I will be able to do my household chores easily and not worry about where to get water from,” Lanieta said.

While officially opening Yacata’s rainwater harvesting system NZ High Commissioner, Jonathan Curr, saluted villagers for their patience and resilience.

“I cannot imagine the difficulties and struggles you faced during the height of the Category 5 cyclone but your resilience is admirable.

“Your determination and commitment to begin with the project was a step forward to restore the lives of the people.” Mr Curr stressed rain was a vital source of water and harvesting it effectively would contribute to solving Yacata’s water woes and promote better hygiene and sanitation practice.

“The rainwater harvesting system captures water to its maximum capacity and requires very low maintenance. It is also a sustainable means of conserving and using rainwater for consumption,” he said.

Prior to the installation of water tanks, villagers harvested using cement reservoir, borehole and groundwater pools.

“I remember how I used to walk a long early in the morning, in the hot sun and in the evening as a young girl to fetch for water. Those were difficult times,” said Salote Lakotani.

The 67-year-old grandmother said having tanks installed in the home will remove the huge burden placed on women as carers and managers of the family.

“I dream of the day when we will have water in taps 24 hours a day but having rainwater tanks is still a big plus. I am proud of how far we’ve come and today we can celebrate.”

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