Groundwater – Making the Invisible Visible

On this World Water Day, Fijian children stand together and advocate on the importance of groundwater

22 March 2022
On this World Water Day, Fijian children stand together and advocate on the importance of groundwater
UNICEFPacific/2022/Wong

Suva, Fiji, 22 March 2022 – Today, children from 10 schools in Fiji joined others around the world to celebrate World Water Day by taking part in an oratory contest organized by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Meteorological Services and UNICEF to advocate on the importance of groundwater.

“Imagine when the top surface of the ground drops so far that the well is not deep enough to reach it or pump up water, leaving the well dry. Devastating, isn’t it? We need to protect our ground water as it is a scarce resource and living things depend on it,” said Selai Daunakamakama, 14, from Nausori Primary School who was also a participant of the oratory contest. “I am grateful to be given the opportunity to be able to raise my voice today and speak on the importance of this very valuable resource.”

Groundwater supplies a large proportion of the water we use for drinking, sanitation, food  production and industrial processes. It is also critically important to the healthy functioning of ecosystems, such as wetlands and rivers. Overexploitation of groundwater can lead to land instability and subsidence, and, in coastal regions, to sea water intrusion under the land.

“Water is one of the most important and vital resources on earth. All life forms on earth require water to survive. If there will be no water, there would be no life on earth. Water is everything and without water there is no life,” said the Minister for Infrastructure, Meteorological Services, Lands and Mineral Resources, Hon. Jone Usamate. “Having access to safe and clean drinking water is a constitutional right under Fiji’s 2013 Constitution. It is also an ambitious target under Fiji’s National Development Plan which aims for 100 per cent access to clean and safe water to be realized by 2021 for urban areas and by 2031 for rural areas.”

Hon. Minister Usamate added that to achieve this, the Fijian Government has allocated funds through its implementing agencies namely, the Water Authority of Fiji and Mineral Resources Department for rural and urban water projects. While there is a focus on accessing water through surface water sources, groundwater is also explored in areas where surface water easily dries up particularly during dry spell. This is common in most of Fiji’s maritime communities, communities along the coast and some inland.

Students from primary and secondary levels took part in the oratory contest, including Nausori District School, Nausori Primary School, Vuci Methodist School, Vunimono Arya School, Vunimono Sanatan Dharam Primary School, Vunimono High School, Sila Central High School, Lelean Memorial School, Dilkusha Methodist High School and Pt Shreedhar Maharaj College. The students advocated to key stakeholders about how good groundwater management is needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goals to protect, conserve and restore water-related ecosystems. 

“Protecting our groundwater is critical for surviving and adapting to climate change as well as meeting the needs of a growing population,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “We thank the Ministry of Infrastructure and Meteorological Services, and other partners, in supporting UNICEF to provide a platform dedicated to amplifying the voices of children on this critically important topic.”

This event is supported by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, Ministry for Lands and Mineral Resources, Water Authority of Fiji, Save the Children, Live and Learn, Pleass Global Limited, Rotary Pacific Water, Habitat for Humanity Fiji and Partners in Community Development Fiji.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Meteorological Services also acknowledges the valuable support from various donor and key stakeholders for improvements of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Fiji including the Government of United Kingdom, Government of Australia, Government of New Zealand, Government of the Republic of Korea, Government of Japan and the European Union as well as United Nations agencies including WHO and UNESCO. 

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About Groundwater:

Groundwater is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers. Groundwater is a source of recharge for lakes, rivers and wetlands. An aquifer is a geological formation or part of it, consisting of permeable material capable to store/yield significant quantities of water. Groundwater is a very important natural resource and has a significant role in the economy. It is the main source of water for irrigation and food industry.

For the environment, groundwater plays a very important role in keeping the water level and flow into rivers, lakes and wetlands especially during the drier months when there is little direct recharge from rainfall. This is also essential for the wildlife and plants living in this environment.

 

About the Fijian Ministry of Infrastructure and Meteorological Services:

The Ministry is responsible for policy formulation, planning, design, regulatory, coordination and implementation of programs, projects and services relating to infrastructural works, utilities (water and electricity), meteorology and hydrology.  Similarly, responsible for policy and legislative oversight of the Fiji Roads Authority (FRA), the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) and Energy Fiji Limited (EFL).  The Ministry develops infrastructure that moves people, the economy, and the nation forward. It provides services for the protection of life and property with environmental integrity. 

 

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Mohammed Nistar Khan, Ministry of Infrastructure and Meteorological Services, mohammed.khan@govnet.gov.fj

Zubnah Khan, UNICEF Pacific, Tel: +679 9988137, zukhan@unicef.org

Media contacts

Zubnah Khan
Communication Officer
UNICEF Pacific
Tel: +679 330 0439 Ext. 175
Tel: 9988137

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/pacificislands/

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