By Bob Makin
Vanuatu is a very small country (pop. 200,000), and the capital city is tiny (30,000). Yet bad news travels as fast as the trade wind — which frequently carries with it the smell of corruption.
In 2006, a resident of an area adjacent to the spring supplying water to the capital, Port Vila, noticed that a farmer down below had constructed a dwelling of some permanence. Believing this building to be inside an area protected by law to prevent contamination of the city’s drinking water, the resident made further inquiries. Indeed, the farmer had built where no structure was allowed, and where he had permission to farm only crops unlikely to present a hazard to the aquifer.
The observant resident notified the authorities, but he found out that the matter was not all that straightforward…