EIB grants $75m loan to improve water infrastructure in Fiji

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed to provide $75m loan to support a new investment programme by the Water Authority of Fiji.

The $405m programme seeks to better protect water infrastructure against natural disasters in Fiji and strengthen the resilience of water distribution and wastewater treatment. It will focus on improving current service levels, reduce leakages and enable quicker resumption of water supply following cyclones.

In February 2016, Cyclone Winston hit Fiji causing an estimated $1.4bn in damages across the region.

Signed at COP 23, the new 20-year financing is said to be EIB’s largest-ever loan in the Pacific and support for water investment in a small island state.

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said: "This welcome financing will be used with funding from the Green Climate Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the Fijian Government.”

The water investment will benefit more than 275,000 people living in the capital city of Suva.

It will see the construction of a new water-treatment plant, upgrading existing wastewater treatment facilities and improving and expanding water networks.

European Investment Bank vice-president Ambroise Fayolle said: “As the bank of the European Union, the European Investment Bank recognises the crucial importance of investing in water and improving access to clean water and sanitation worldwide.

“Small island states are vulnerable to a changing climate as witnessed by the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston in Fiji last year.

“We pleased to support transformation water investment on the island of Viti Levu that will benefit hundreds of thousands of Fijians and better protect key services from extreme weather.”

The EIB has provided more than $40bn for water investment around the world in Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Pacific in the last ten years.

Image: Fiji Water and Wastewater Project. Photo: courtesy of EIB.