Rotuma - Settlements

A packed-sand road encircles the perimeter of the eastern part of the island and extends to the northern and southern sides of the western part. Since colonial times, at least, almost all settlement has been on the coastal areas along this road. Although the island is divided into districts and the districts into villages, settlement along the road is nearly continuous, and it is often difficult to determine boundaries. In recent years bush paths have been widened, and though still quite rough, they make it possible to traverse the interior of the Island by motor vehicle. Traditional Rotuman houses were made of thatch, but over time limestone, cut lumber, and corrugated iron replaced much of the thatching. In 1972 Hurricane Bebe destroyed most of the remaining native-style houses. A relief team from New Zealand organized the Construction of over 300 cement and iron structures. Most households also maintain a thatched cooking house, and some have separate toilets and wash houses. There are no freshwater streams on Rotuma, and until recently rainwater stored in cement or iron tanks was the main source of water for drinking and bathing. During the 1970s, however, a freshwater underground lens was tapped and now most Households have access to piped water. Income from salaries and remittances are often used to improve houses, and a number of two-story structures have been built over the past few years.

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