A vicious storm destroyed Lawaki Village’s only source of safe water. Villagers feared for their lives — until UNICEF stepped in to help.
When Tropical Cyclone Winston roared through Fiji, it flattened buildings and flooded streets. In a matter of hours, families watched their homes transform into a watery site of devastation and danger.
In isolated Lawaki Village, villagers emerged after the storm to face a cruel irony: the flooding contaminated the town’s single source of tap water. Streets and homes were awash in water, but none of it was safe to drink.
For two days we didn’t have water to drink, so we were drinking rainwater from the pieces of tin roofs.
Grace, age 7, Lawaki Village
The children of Lawaki faced illness and even death if they didn’t get safe drinking water soon.
UNICEF emergency response teams moved rapidly to reach the village. They distributed water purification tablets and implemented sanitation measures to prevent the spread of typhoid, a deadly disease transmitted by water.
The village is still recovering, and the drinking water tap is not yet fully restored. Children help carry water to and from the river to be purified, always vigilant of the water’s dangerous – and deadly – qualities.