Family’s struggle for clean water

By Vatapuia Maiava and Ilia L. Likou ,

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NO OTHER CHOICE BUT TO WANDER AROUND LOOKING FOR WATER: Puata Fealofani, 54, from the village of Tufulele-Uta

NO OTHER CHOICE BUT TO WANDER AROUND LOOKING FOR WATER: Puata Fealofani, 54, from the village of Tufulele-Uta

Next time you waste water, spare a thought for many people in Samoa who have to walk long distances in the sun to fetch buckets of water for their daily needs. That’s how life is for Puata Fealofani, from the village of Tufulele-uta.

Puata, 54, and his family sometimes go days with dried water pipes leading them to walk very far in search of water. This has been going on for years.

“We have so many problems with water over here,” Puata told the Village Voice.

“There are times when we get water and that’s when we are so happy but most of the time, there’s no water. When there’s no water then each person is given a bucket and we go around looking for a water source.”

When the water does come, it’s seen as God-sent for Puata and his family because they know that it’s just a brief luxury before it’s gone.

“We moved here in 2003 and from then till now, water problems have always caused us grief,” he said.

“We do have a water pipe but its very unreliable. When the water comes then it gushes out fast and we try making the most of it because a little while later, the water dies again.

“I think the problem is that the pipe is just too small. We are using the government’s water pipe and even though we have problems, we are lucky compared to those living inland.

“The governments water pipes doesn’t reach right inland. Those families living up there suffer from the lack of water. It’s sad.”

But when water does run, it’s during odd times when everyone is asleep.

“We have water drums here but it’s not enough,” he said.

WATER STORED IN DRUMS: Puata’s desperate attempt to store as much water as possible
WATER STORED IN DRUMS: Puata’s desperate attempt to store as much water as possible

“When the water stops coming and we use our water drums it dries up very fast. Then we have no water at all for a long while.

“Some days the water comes at odd hours like later at night, other times we have go through three days without water.”

A series of requests have been sent to the government but to no avail.

“There’s not much you can do without water,” Puaka said.

“We have sent a lot of requests to the government to try and help us in any way possible and they did send someone once to check on the problem but still nothing has been done about it.

“I think the best idea would be to have water tanks here; people of this village are in real need of those tanks so we can store large volumes of water in case of emergency.”

And what other choice does Puata and his family have but to wander around with their buckets in search of water.

“When the water is out then we make our way to the coastal areas where we walk around looking for water,” he said.

“Those on the coastal area have reliable water flows which everyone else in the village relies on. It’s not easy to walk all the way there then walk back with the heavy buckets of water.

“But that’s how life is for us; we have no other way of getting water so we walk in the sun. During the elections, all our past candidates make promises to fix this problem but nothing has been done.

“We have been going through different members of parliament and none of them have fixed the water here. It’s a real nuisance.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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