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March 04, 2020 Wednesday 05:03:19 PM IST

Monash University institute to lead water and sanitation programme in Fiji

Leadership Instincts

New Zealand Prime Minister the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern has officially launched the construction of a ground-breaking Australian-led programme to improve water and sanitation for more than 3,000 people living in informal settlements in Fiji. The PM visited the settlement of Tamavua-i-Wai in Suva, where the local community is implementing the Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments (RISE) program, led by Monash University’s Sustainable Development Institute and a global consortium of partners. 

RISE aims to address the poor health and wellbeing of informal settlements across the globe caused by environmental exposure to pathogens, pollutants and disease vectors in water, food, air, and soil. By working with communities, governments, local leaders and partner institutions, RISE designs location-specific solutions that integrate green infrastructure to strengthen the whole-of-life water and sanitation cycle. The New Zealand Government has pledged NZ$3 million to the programme over three years, funding civil works upgrades for six informal settlements in the Greater Suva Area.

The construction areas at Tamavua-i-Wai were identified during collaborative workshops where communities worked with RISE to plan infrastructure based on their unique needs and use of space. Green technologies including wetlands, biofiltration gardens and ‘smart’ pressure sewers will be built into buildings and landscapes, as well as streets, sewers and stormwater infrastructure.

New Zealand’s injection adds to foundational funding provided by the Wellcome Trust for the research components of RISE, and the Asian Development Bank, which is supporting the infrastructure components. Construction in Fiji is co-funded by New Zealand and the Government of Fiji, contributing to broader policy work to make quality affordable housing available to all Fijians.

Construction at Tamavua-i-Wai will continue into the year, and the RISE team will soon commence co-design (designing with communities) for infrastructure with the first six communities in the earlier-phase intervention group.

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