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Namosi: Resource rich or resource cursed?

Many moons before white man set foot on Viti Levu, the main island in Fiji, the folklore of moliveitala ni vanua had existed. It speaks of the magic in the water in the two main rivers that the trade winds bring in as rain clouds to the thick jungle-clad, mountainous terrains of Namosi, deep on the island’s eastern borders. The legend relates to a very narrow fjord in which oranges (moli) are separated (veitala). Larger fruits float by ever so easily through the fjord, whereas tiny ones cannot.

Whether this was nature’s way of predicting that hundred years after the legend was born and passed down through the generations, Namosi would be generating electricity through water passing through the narrowest of tunnels, no one can really affirm. But travel to the province some 40 kilometres southwest of Fiji’s capital, Suva today, and locals can still point out moliveitala ni vanua.

A modern road cuts through it to reach the village of Nakavika. Nakavika was one of the seven villages in Namosi that have been identified to host three ‘run on river’ mini hydro power plants. As the name suggests, electricity is generated by diverting water from the river into turbines, before water is piped back to the same river one or two kilometres downstream. In Namosi, the plan is to install hydropower plants on Wainikoroiluva River, and the two creeks of Wainikovu and Waivaka.

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