In May 2015, a young man in Ferafalu was digging a pit for his pour flush toilet, when the earth gave way beneath him. Suddenly a sinkhole was created, about three meters deep and five meters wide.
At the base of the sinkhole appeared a small pool of ground water. The pool was only about 40 centimeters deep but for the Island of Manaoba, Ray had struck liquid gold.
Bit by bit, inch by inch, Ferafalu’s shoreline have been steadily disappearing over the decades because of rising sea levels. Due to this rise in sea level, Ray decided to move to an area a kilometer inland, away from his only known home – the coastal village.
Relocating also meant he was moving a long way away from the “men’s place” so after building his house, he decided to install a pour flush toilet outside. That is what he was digging to build, when the ground caved.
Ray’s discovery of this water source couldn’t have come at a better time. The island had not had any rainfall from July to December last year – the longest dry season in its history – pushing the community into a deep water crisis. Ferafalu’s primary source of clean water for drinking and cooking was rainwater, and a well which was half a day’s walk to and from Ferafalu.
Ray’s new-found well meant the community had close access to fresh and clean drinking water. He has built a ladder down the sinkhole so that relatives, family members and anyone else can access the water.
Word of the well has spread so far and wide that villagers from distant villages such as Hatodea and Fomato have travelled by canoe to Manaoba Island, to fetch water for the families’ drinking and cooking needs.
Water quality tests done at Ray’s well in June this year returned a reading of 159 parts per million, making it safe to drink.