14 Aug 2002

SOPAC head says Forum leaders should concentrate on the basics

6:34 pm on 14 August 2002

The head of one of the region's most important organisations says Pacific Island leaders should address the basic needs of everyday living first before becoming involved in global issues and politics.

The advice has come from the director of the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, Alfred Simpson, on the eve of the Forum leaders meeting in Suva.

The Fiji Sun quotes Mr Simpson as saying Pacific leaders should first deal with getting the necessities of life to their people at an acceptable level before committing to the international agenda.

He says affordable electricity, sanitation and the marine environment are the basic issues.

Mr Simpson says there are countries which have water once a day, another which has water twice a day for two hours and development in Suva is held up because of inadequate water supply.

He says the water in many Pacific island capitals cannot be drunk and basic clean water and sanitation will do far more than building health centres.

Mr Simpson says at the Forum summit countries sit behind their flags and make statements rather than deal with issues that affect the Pacific.

He says very often Forum decisions are sanitised because positions have to be compromised.