Scouts in Fiji and USA help a community gain access to clean drinking water
Clean water is essential for survival. It is a basic requirement. It connects and gives to sustenance to every aspect of human life. Access to clean and safe water not only ushers improved health for families across the world, but also turns problems into potentials. Unfortunately, over 2.1 billion people in the world lacks access to safe, readily available water at home and over 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation, according to the WHO and UNICEF. The Scouts in Fiji are doing their fair share, little steps with lasting impact to the community. Scouts, under the flagship of the Messengers of Peace (MoP) Programme are constantly doing and initiating community development projects in rural areas in Fiji, focusing on giving access to clean and safe water for those who have less or no access to such. Historically, Fiji has a tremendous need for water filtration; almost 50% of the Fijian population do not have access to clean water. Furthermore, the country of Fiji is relatively small and the prospect of contributing towards solving the country’s water problems is very much tangible. As part of the efforts of the National Team of the MoP programme of the Fiji Scouts Association to reach out to more rural communities without or with less access to clean and safe drinking water, they started a community development initiative entitled ‘Give Clean Water Project.’ With the help of Ethan Banks, a Scout from the Boy Scouts of America, they partnered with Give Clean Water (GCW), a US-based non-profit organisation focused on bringing clean water systems to families, schools and nursing stations in rural Fiji. They started with four villages in Sabeto in the district of Nadi where the villagers had no access to clean and safe drinking water. The villagers drink unfiltered and unsafe water directly taken from a river. Thus, resulting to high rate of malnutrition and diarrhea, other related medical conditions and high cost for medical intervention. The project gathered several Scouts and Scout leaders from different districts all over Fiji. They walked for several kilometres to reach the remote settlement in the villages and distributed water filters and water buckets. During the visit, they taught the villagers how to use the water filters, how to set it up, including follow ups. They were also taught how to record the data in the geographical information system (GIS) in order to collect and analyse data on household level. The people learned quickly and are now using the water filtration system which were provided to them for free. The small villages in Sabeto now have access to clean, safe and sustainable drinking water. Little by little, the scout movement is improving the quality of life of other people – or in this case, the people of the villages in Sabeto. With the overwhelming success of the first project, the MoP Team from Fiji are now looking to expand its partnership with Give Clean Water in order to cover other rural areas and remote settlements in the country. Goal 6 of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals seeks to ensure access to water and sanitation for all. By 2030, it targets to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. --- With reports from Mr. Kailash Pillay and Aynal Sharma.