Work targeted at developing an integrated flood risk management programme for the Nadi River catchment area in Fiji has been boosted with a financial commitment from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In sealing the commitment, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Tuesday 9th November between Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture and IUCN’s Oceania Regional Office. Through this MOU, IUCN as a co-funder for the Nadi Basin Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Project has committed US$50, 000 to carry out scientific studies and help identify a flood risk management plan for the people of Nadi.
The Global Environment Facility, working through SOPAC, is the main sponsor of the $7m project and is working closely with the Land and Water Resource Management (LWRM) division within the Fiji Government’s Ministry of Agriculture.
IUCN’s Water Program Coordinator Dr Milika Sobey said the project had national ramifications. “This is such an important project because Nadi is an area of national economic significance,” she said.
“We learnt from the major flooding that happened in January last year that it cost the country millions and millions of dollars so something has to be done to try and reduce the impacts. We are also going to look at different scientific studies - we have done surveys on the fish life in the Nadi River, both plant and animal life and also in the mouth of the Nadi River and along the Nadi coastal area.”
The project area extends along the coastal areas from the Nadi Intertional Airport to Korovuto and stretches up to the highlands of Sabeto and Nawaka, totalling approximately 517 square kilometers.
Work carried out so far includes the establishment of the Nadi Basin Catchment Committee that comprises landowners, the town council and other stakeholders.
Nadi Basin IWRM Project Manager Mr. Vinesh Kumar explained that other activities of the project involves setting up an early warning system that includes six water level stations and six rainfall gauges.
“Once we collect data all across the catchment area then we will set up a flood forecasting system,” Mr Kumar said.
The project, which was launched in 2009 under the adoption of the Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) principles, successfully being implemented by IUCN across 5 continents, will be implemented over a four year period in the Nadi area.
Commenting on the MOU, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Colonel Mason Smith said “the pursuit of agricultural developments must be carried out in cognizance of the impacts to the environment”.