1 Oct 2003

Drought closes schools in Fiji

5:16 pm on 1 October 2003

Some schools in Fiji are being forced to close as the water shortage crisis deepens with continuing drought.

Several thousand students in Suva have been forced to go home and 12 primary shcools in the Yasawa Islands have had to close.

Other schools in Fiji's west are operating restricted hours because of unsanitary conditions caused by a lack of water and blocked sanitation systems.

The Fiji Times reports that the minister of education, Ro Teimumu Kepa, has advised school authorities to shut down their institutions if there is no water supply to avoid health problems,

Concern is mounting about the effect this will have on the final examinations of the affected students.

The government is preparing to ship water by barges to outer islands.

Meanwhile, Fiji's cabinet has met to discuss how to avoid a total shut down of the main hydro electricity dam at Monasavu because the water level in the dam is close to critical.