FIJI, Ketei Village, Savusavu, Vanua Levu Island - January 2007
Construction of a community center in exchange for the creation of a 900-acre forest reserve for a duration of 20 years
Ketei Village is 20 miles from the nearest town. The village’s 200 residents have below-average incomes, even by Fijian standards. Seacology is funding the construction of a much-needed community center for the village in exchange for an agreement to preserve 900 acres of pristine forest, home to the threatened endemic yasiyasi tree, for a period of 25 years. *
UPDATE June 2007 - Materials were purchased and transported in early 2007. Construction of the foundation, walls and flooring was completed by April 2007. Roof and window construction will take place in mid-2007. The building is scheduled to be completed by end of the summer 2007.
UPDATE May 2008 - Foul weather and travel schedules to the area caused delays in further construction in mid-2007. Construction began again in August 2007 and is continuing with the exception of continued foul weather. As of March 2008 field representative Saula Vodonaivalu, Jr. reports that work is progressing well and is scheduled to be fully complete by August 2008.
UPDATE January 2009 - Construction of the building was completed in August 2008 and visited by the 2008 Seacology group expedition for an opening ceremony.
UPDATE June 2011 - At their June 2011 board meeting, the Seacology Board of Directors approved additional funding for the construction of a restroom block, which will be added to the already-completed community center, as well as funds for new flooring for the building and other minor repairs. In exchange for the additional funding, the community has agreed to extend their commitment to protect the conservation area for an additional five years.
UPDATE December 2011 - According to Fiji Field Representatives Jackie and Harry Powell, with the completion of the restroom block and the renovations to the Community Hall this project is now complete – apart from periodic follow ups to ensure the conservation of the forest is observed. At the opening on October 7, in the presence of members of the Provincial Council and other local dignitaries, the village chief in thanking Seacology reassured the Powells that they will continue to be diligent with the forest conservation. He further said that they would be happy to extend the duration of the conservation area in the future. Program Manager Karen Peterson visited the project with the Powells in September 2011. While there she learned that Ketei is being upgraded in the eyes of the government – from a settlement to a village – and the government also recently committed $5,000 for the construction of a kindergarten adjacent to the community center.