Port Vila, 7 December 2021: December is a month for celebrations, and this is especially the case for 3,000 people on the islands of Ambrym and Malekula, Malampa Province, who will benefit from newly constructed water systems launched between 6 and 9 December.
The Department of Water Resources, with financial support from the New Zealand Government and technical assistance from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has facilitated community assessments to ensure water system designs were completed, community trainings held on Drinking Water Safety and Security Planning and monitoring of the construction.
“It is the mandate of the Department of Water Resources under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to ensure rural communities have access to safe and secure water services to sustain their domestic needs,” said Honourable Edward Nalyal Molou, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources. “Thankfully, with financial support from the New Zealand Government and technical assistance from UNICEF, the Department has covered many communities with safe water supply of which we are currently witnessing launches of water systems for five communities on Ambrym and six on Malekula,” he added.
Five communities on Ambrym Island now have access to rainwater harvesting systems that benefit at least 2,200 children, women, and men. On Malekula Island, six communities benefit from gravity-fed water systems with 800 people now able to access running water from standing taps in their villages. Having a functioning piped water supply for these communities assists with safeguarding children and women as previously they had to walk long distances to rivers to collect water. In addition, health facilities and schools adjacent to the communities on the two islands now have access to improved water to support provision of essential services.
“UNICEF is pleased to support the Government and sector partners to implement an initiative that has far reaching benefits for women and children, particularly now with the COVID-19 pandemic that means handwashing with soap and water is even more critical,” said Eric Durpaire, UNICEF Vanuatu’s Chief of Field Office. “Access to resilient water supply services closer to households is vital for handwashing and other hygiene practices that improve the health and wellbeing of people, particularly of children,” he added.
The construction of these water systems is part of the newly extended NZD 2.9 million Water Sector Partnership from 2017 to 2023, a collaboration between the Department of Water Resources – Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Engineers without Borders New Zealand and UNICEF. This is part of an ongoing collaboration since 2014 to help strengthen the water and sanitation sector.
“New Zealand believes that everyone has the right to have clean drinking water. These water launches contribute to the Government’s goal for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030,” Acting High Commissioner Richard Dirks said. “New Zealand is honoured to partner with the Department of Water Resources and UNICEF to help provide drinking water to communities.”
Community ownership through effective water committees with strong representation from woman is vital. On both islands, communities played the vital role of providing sand, coral, and labourers to assist with the works. The community’s role becomes even more important going forward to ensure sustainable water systems to meet the national goal of access to safe water for all – that leads to a healthier, resilient population.
About the Vanuatu Ministry of Lands & Natural Resources
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources oversees the functions of the Department of Lands, the Department of Water Resources, the Department of Geology and Mines, and the Office of The Valuer General. The main areas we focus on are: ensuring there is fair dealing in lands; and ensuring that the rights of Custom Owners to their lands, and its developments, are fully recognized and protected. For more information visit: https://mol.gov.vu/index.php/en/
About the New Zealand Aid Programme
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Aid Programme delivers New Zealand’s official support for developing countries. The purpose of New Zealand’s aid is to develop shared prosperity and stability in the Pacific and beyond, drawing on the best of New Zealand’s knowledge and skills. We support sustainable development in developing countries to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world. For more information visit: https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/aid-and-development/
For more information, please contact:
Vanuatu’s Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Lands & Natural Ressources:
Molu Bulu, Department of Water Resources, +678 5371289, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Zealand High Commission to Vanuatu:
Jennifer Kausei, New Zealand High Commission, +678 774 3881, Jennifer.Kausei@mfat.govt.nz