Communities benefit from improved water supplies
Today, about 2500 people in Erromango will access safer and more secure water supplies, thanks to the Ministry of Lands & Natural Resources and its partners, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and CARE, officially handing over repaired and improved water and sanitation infrastructure to communities across Erromango.
“The Government’s collaboration with its partners in the recovery phase post Cyclone Pam is underpinned by the principle of ‘Building Back Better,’ especially in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector,” stated Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Ralph Regenvanu. “Sustainable and equitable access to safe and resilient water and sanitation supplies are the focus of the recovery programme.”
UNICEF Chief of Vanuatu Field Office, Andrew Parker, said, “Emergencies provide UNICEF and our partners the opportunity to build more resilient communities to ensure protection of vulnerable children and their families.” He added, “This is vital so that children under five are protected from threats posed by waterborne diseases.”
Vanuatu is one of the most disaster prone countries in the Pacific. Cyclone Pam caused widespread damage to water systems, toilets and other water and sanitation infrastructure in Tafea province.
The recovery programme benefited more than 5,000 people in Tanna, Aniwa and Erromango, building on the immediate response to make the systems stronger against future disasters. “New Zealand is pleased to support the delivery of safe water and sanitation to the people of Tafea, contributing to improved health and wellbeing,” said New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Georgina Roberts. “Improving access to safe water and sanitation for families and communities is part of New Zealand’s commitment to improving health outcomes in Vanuatu.”
The project helped communities set up water committees and empowered them with skills to manage and protect their community’s drinking water supply in the future. Thirty six committee
members, including 18 women, were trained as plumbers, received a toolkit and a plumbers’ handbook to ensure communities are able to maintain their own water system.
“Communities across Erromango now have the tools, skills and community structure they need to manage, maintain and repair their water supply systems,” said Charlie Damon, Program Director at CARE International in Vanuatu. “Men and women of these communities are confident that they can safely manage their water supply – now and for the future.”
Information sessions for communities on improving sanitation and hygiene, and the importance of including women and other vulnerable people, like people living with disabilities, in decisions about water and sanitation were carried out. Forty percent of the water committee members in Erromango are women, with more than half of those in leadership positions. Almost 70 schoolgirls received menstrual hygiene management kits and joined in menstrual hygiene awareness sessions.
The NZD 2.5 million provided by New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to the TC Pam WASH Sector Recovery Project guaranteed the completion of the project by Government of Vanuatu, in partnership with MFAT and UNICEF covering areas in the most affected provinces of Shefa (Epi, Lamen, and Emau Islands including peri-urban Port Vila) and Tafea (Itaku and Imarkak communities on South Tanna and White Sands as well as on the islands of Erromango and Aniwa).