Population: 889,953

Poverty rate: 29.9%

Over 250,000 people remain trapped below the poverty line in Fiji. Rural and remote island communities are particularly vulnerable, due to lack of access to clean water, sanitation, health care, and other government services. Women, youth, and people with disabilities face significant disadvantage as they are commonly excluded from decision-making within their households and communities. Low levels of education and land ownership also pose barriers for resource-poor families.

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Case study

Training increases health and hygiene awareness

With training in water hygiene and sanitation, communities from three islands in Lekutu, Fiji, are drastically improving their health.

Poor access to clean water and sanitation are major challenges in Fiji, especially in remote areas such as Lekutu. Lack of local infrastructure and low awareness of good hygiene practices mean communities, especially children, are vulnerable to water-borne diseases.

“Our community faces a major water issue where water is not distributed directly to our homes and we have to cart water from a distance,” said Mali Boro, a community health worker in Lekutu. “This also impacts the primary school.”

With support from our local partner, Partners for Community Development Fiji (PCDF), representatives from health and water committees attended a three-day training workshop to learn how to assess the safety of water sources such as wells, tanks, and streams.

Participants practised conducting H2S tests to detect faecal contamination of water, and also learned how to develop their own water management plans.

With this training, communities will be able to avoid water-borne diseases, identify water supply and infrastructure issues, and make basic upgrades to existing water facilities.

Valavia, the District Nurse, says she has observed a decline in diarrheal illness and skin infections since the training began in 2016.

“In 2016, I treated five to six cases of skin infection per week,” she said. “Now I hardly ever see these cases.

“In my opinion, the best outcome of the training has been broader health knowledge for villagers on hygiene, nutrition and the environment.”

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