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‘I think government installed them for decoration’

By Charlina Tone

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Oct. 2, 2011) –

Eight-year-old Nellie has to walk to a water tank to fetch water for her family.

Families in Saleapaga and most parts of Aleipata devastated by the tsunami have to walk at least 30-minutes to the closest water source.

Once they find water, then they have to cart it back to their homes. This has been the routine for most survivors of the terrible tragedy for the past two years.

Filipo Mealelei is one of them.

"Life is a daily struggle," he says. Despite the water woes, the family refuses to move back to the coast. They are simply scared of the sea. "It’s a tough life up here in the hills but we have no intention of moving back down because it is safer up here."

Not far from his house is Aleni Siau and his seven children. They have given up asking for water.

"We have made requests to just about every organisation you can think of and nothing has come," says Mr Siau.

Mr Siau collects water for his family when they run out. That means a 30-minute-walk to the closest water source that he dreads, but continues to make.

"If I don’t go then my family can’t eat, drink or shower so I have to do it."

The pipelines have been installed but there is still no water.

"I think the government installed them for decoration because they have been sitting there unused for almost a year now."

His youngest son is still a toddler and Mr Siau is concerned about his health.

"We can’t go on living like this, without water because it is unhygienic."

He reveals that some days he goes without a shower because they have to ration their water very carefully.

On the hills of Saleapaga, Samoa Observer came across eight-year-old Annie Fa’afiti.

She was pushing a wheelbarrow of empty bottles to refill from the nearest tank located 200 meters from her home.

It is a trip she makes every day.

"A lot of families from around here share the water from this tank," she says.

Annie says a water truck comes around every week to refill the tank and sometimes it runs out before the end of the week. Resort owner of Taufua Beach Fales, Fa’afetai Taufua is frustrated with the water problem. She and her family pay $250 to have their tanks filled.

"It has been two years now and still nothing," she said. Pleas to the government have fallen on deaf ears. "We were told that T$9 million of tsunami funds was allocated to installing the water supply but this has still not happened."

Ms Taufua says the people of her village are living in misery because of the water problem."I hope help is on its way." Attempts to get a comment from the Samoa Water Authority yesterday were unsuccessful. The Acting CEO’s Secretary said the CEO was in a meeting.

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