Fiji drinking water - is it safe?

By , Travel Insights Editor Fiji typhoid, water, Health

There are two types of Fiji water; Fiji Water (capital W) the ubiquitous bottled goodness and Fiji water, the stuff that comes out of the nation's taps, sometimes with shells, frogs and invisible typhoid and gastroenteritis bacteria.

Outside of the main cities of Suva and Nadi, and off the mainland resorts, it is recommended you do not drink tap water.

Water & Typhoid

The government is in the midst of a mass typhoid vaccination program after a 2009 epidemic caused by poor water supply and another outbreak in May 2010.

They're also in the middle of a 3-year drought, which authorities are warning could cause a nationwide outbreak of Diarrhoea and Dengue Fever if it extends into November 2010.

It's already a problem on Vanuabalavu in Fiji's northern Lau islands. With piped sources of water dried up, the locals are relying on tank water that sometimes is contaminated. Sadly several deaths have been blamed on this outbreak.

Water, Water Everywhere.

How can a nation, which is the source of an estimated 180 million bottles of pure artesian water a year, have a drinking water problem?

The 27-kilometer long underground aquifer where the Fiji Water company fills its bottles with great quality stuff, isn't tapped for the local population.

The Fijian government doesn't have the infrastructure, the money (or the will) to do it. Instead many Fijians have to make do with cracked, broken and contaminated water pipes and a supply which is often polluted after heavy rains.

Is It Safe To Drink?

Officially the tap water in Nadi and Suva and in your mainland resort is safe to drink. Unofficially, any Fijian will tell you it's an acquired taste, and not recommended for visitors. Fortunately that other Fiji water – Fiji Water – is in plentiful supply.

Outside the main cities, in rural areas and on the smaller islands the main water supply is tank water and it's not always safe. The resorts on these islands will often do a little “extra“, take their own precautions, which is why you might notice a strong chlorine smell to the water.

In addition they'll usually supply you with plenty of bottled water. Use it for brushing your teeth as well as drinking. If you're travelling with children, try to teach them to keep their mouths closed while in the shower or bath.

If you're sticking to the main resorts you're unlikely to be exposed to typhoid, but if you're going to rural areas you should follow these tips to avoid becoming ill.

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Author: Phil Sylvester

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