FIJI, Veivatuloa, Lobau and Wailoaloa, Viti Levu Island - November 2003
Electricity in exchange for the establishment of a 1,500-acre forest preserve and 4,942-acre marine reserve
These remote villages have below-average per capita incomes, and were recently approached by a logging company that offered the funding necessary to connect the villages to Viti Levu's existing power grid in exchange for logging the area's pristine 1,500-acre rainforest. The village chief declined this offer and insisted on finding non-destructive ways of providing power to the villages. The villages have agreed to establish both a forest reserve and marine reserve. In exchange for this sacrifice, Seacology is providing the funds necessary to connect the three villages to the island's power grid.
UPDATE July 2004 - The work to connect the three villages to the power grid is on Fiji's Electricity Authority project list. However, the project is 35th in line on the Authority's 2004 project list.
UPDATE July 2005 - Work was scheduled to commence at the end of February 2005. However, the Electricity Authority has delayed work until they receive the Fiji government's matching funds to complete the project. They informed the village chiefs that they expect the work to be completed by the end of 2005. Seacology's June 2005 Fiji expedition for Japanese Fellows visited the three villages to celebrate the villagers' commitment to the project.
UPDATE January 2006 - In December 2005 wiring was installed in the three villages and at Namosi School, which serves all three villages. The Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) is currently moving its way toward the area. Field Representative Saula Vodonaivalu Jr. expects that FEA will be working in the three villages' area in early 2006. In the meantime, thanks to generous donations to Seacology from friends of Dr. Paul Cox in Iceland and Sweden, Seacology funded a repainting project and provided a supply of books for the library at Namosi School. Repainting and book distribution took place before the students' holiday break in December 2005.
UPDATE June 2006 - The FEA postponed their work to connect the village to the grid system until after the Fiji elections scheduled to take place in May 2006. Field Representative Saula Vodonaivalu Jr. will continue to follow up with the FEA to complete the project.
UPDATE January 2007 - In September 2006 the FEA brought the lines to the village in preparation for final installation, but had to postpone connection of electricity from the village to the grid system until the government provides their designated portion of the funding to complete the project. Field Representative Saula Vodonaivalu Jr. will continue to follow up with the FEA to complete the project.
UPDATE October 2007 - Additional funds were provided in August 2007 to complete new house wiring before connection from the FEA. In September 2007 the FEA completed the connection to the three villages and electricity is now being supplied to village houses. Saula Vodonaivalu reported that villagers were very happy with the new electricity and asked him to send their message of sincere appreciation to Seacology.