Campaign calls for healthier rivers

Posted on 16 November 2016

Over the next 18 months, WWF-Pacific will work with the people of Natutu village in Ba to roll out a first of its kind “Sustainable Healthy Rivers for All’ campaign.
Over the next 18 months, WWF-Pacific will work with the people of Natutu District in Ba to roll out a first of its kind 'Sustainable Healthy Rivers for All’ campaign.

The exercise aims at maximizing awareness for healthier river systems in Fiji and is funded by USAID, a project between the Pacific American Climate Fund (PACAM) and WWF-Pacific which aims at strengthening governance and resource management for climate resilience in Fiji.

The national campaign focuses on communities alongside the Ba River and was launched by the Marama Tui Ba and Healthy Rivers Champion, Adi Laite Koroirua who highlighted the importance of this milestone for the people of Ba whom she added, needed to re-focus their attention on the health, importance and existence of the Ba River.

“As custodians, we each have a role to play, for our business houses and corporates I urge you to relook at your waste disposal methods, assessing where the majority of the waste generated from your business activity gets dumped and ensuring that this will further destroy the river eco-system we rely on.
“For kids and young adults, we need to in-still a sense of civic pride, ensuring that we are doing the right thing by not throwing rubbish carelessly into the waterways as this may harm and pollute the river,” she said.
The ‘Sustainable Healthy Rivers for All’ campaign is linked to WWF-Pacific’s programme the Great Sea Reef project.
WWF’s Sustainable Seafood Manager, Mr Francis Areki provided an insight to guests on Fiji’s natural asset and living icon, the Great Sea Reef or Cakaulevu as it is commonly referred to which  continues to provide a source of protein for many Fijians.
"The Ba River drains out into the Great Sea Reef (GSR), which is the third longest reef barrier system in the Southern Hemisphere. The GSR extends from Udu Point to Bua across the borders of Ba Province through the Yasawa’s and reaches the coast of Nadroga.
“In terms of sedimentation and smothering of coral reefs, this has a major impact on the fisheries in these areas," Mr. Areki said.

He added that the Great Sea Reef encircles four provinces of Fiji and is a major seafood basket for many communities, providing a source of livelihood, aesthetic and recreational value for many communities over the generations.

“The GSR surrounds the provinces of Macuata, Bua, Ba and Ra and the estimated value of fisheries that’s derived from these  four provinces is about FJD $19.2 million annually and that's just commercial value."

"If we consider the subsistence value, you can probably double that value, so you see the significance of the reef system and how the impacts inland could affect the fisheries and contributions to the GDP,” Areki added..
The ‘Sustainable Healthy Rivers for All’ campaign also works towards the restoration of freshwater mussels, or kai population in the Ba River.
"In the late 1990s, the annual harvest for Nailaga, Votua and Nasolo villages in Ba was 124 tonnes in terms of kai and was estimated at a value of $95,000 annually.
“This decrease is connected to the health of the Ba River, so the main effort of this campaign is also to help initiate efforts to help increase the abundance of kai in the Ba River and the message is simple, if the Ba River is maintained to optimal quality conditions, the kai will tell us how healthy it (the river) is by being abundant and in large sizes,” Mr Areki highlighted.

With the campaign already in its second month, two activities have already rolled out and this involves WWF working with communities in Nailaga village in sennit and coir log weaving to help protect their eroding river bank.

Since August 2016, around 230 fruit bearing and native tree species have been planted along Nailaga Village’s river bank.

The campaign launch also coincided with the setting up of a mangrove nursery at the entrance of Natutu Village and is part of ANZ’s in the community initiative-a Corporate Social Responsibility activity with WWF-Pacific.

“We’re proud of the partnership established with WWF-Pacific, through the ANZ Fiji Staff Foundation, where ANZ works with villages to help arrest coastal erosion using traditional means and today we’re taking this project to newer heights through the launch of the ‘Sustainable Healthy Rivers for All’ campaign,” said Rakesh Ram, ANZ Bank Fiji’s Head of Commercial Banking.

For the first time, four campaign champions each representing the community and the private sector were chosen to lead the awareness drive on healthy rivers by effectively promoting sustainable management practices along the Ba River and these were ANZ Regional Executive, Tessa Price; Mix FM Host and Radio Personality, Irshaad Hussain; Votua Village community representative, Pio Tuwai Snr.; and Jese Saukuru, Ba Holdings Limited's secretary general.
Chief guest at the 'Sustainable Healthy Rivers for All' campaign launch was the Marama Tui Ba, Adi Laite Koroirua
© WWF-Pacific/ Vilisite Tamani
Sustainable Seafood Project Manager, Francis Areki giving his keynote address
© WWF-Pacific/ Vilisite Tamani
The launch was held at Natutu Village Hall in Ba
© WWF-Pacific/ Vilisite Tamani
Na Marama Tui Ba joined by the campaign champions for the cutting of the cake
© WWF-Pacific/ Vilisite Tamani
Group photo with the Marama Tui Ba
© WWF-Pacific/ Vilisite Tamani
WWF-Pacific staff with the chief guest
© WWF-Pacific/ Vilisite Tamani
WWF-Pacific's PACAM team (L-R) Vinesh Kumar, Apolosa Robaigau, Dr. Rusila Savou with WWF-Paicific Corporate Comms Officer, Fulori Tuiyasawa
© WWF-Pacific/ Vilisite Tamani
WWF-Pacific Climate Change Fiedl Adaptation Officer, Apolosa Robaiagu leading the nursery setup
© WWF-Pacific/ Vilisite Tamani
The nursery setup was part of ANZ Bank Fiji's CSR activity
© WWF-Pacific/ Vilisite Tamani