Ensuring Equal Access to Clean and Safe Drinking Water in the Choiseul Province, Solomon Islands
Making access to clean water a reality
July 6, 2022
In Choiseul Province, there is a strong connection between terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of the communities. Choiseul Province, one of the nine provinces of Solomon Islands boasts the highest number of sites that are declared marine-protected areas.
Though surface water sources like rivers, lakes, or streams are used as the main source of supply for major towns on the larger, high islands of Solomon Islands while small, low-lying islands, rely exclusively on groundwater and harnessing of rainwater.
In Tuzu village, which has no access to a surface water source, the local community has traditionally relied on rainwater for drinking and cooking, and on groundwater or spring water for bathing, washing, cooking and other basic necessities. With the expansion of logging camps, the groundwater and spring water sources that supplied water to the villagers have been converted into a logging pond, thus cutting the vital supply of freshwater, impacting everyone, especially women, the elderly, and people with disabilities in the village and pushing them to search for a new water source.
Community water management is common across the Pacific. In Solomon Islands, the Government and civil society organizations adopt a drinking water safety and security planning approach to building community capacity to water resource management.
As part of these efforts, David Boseto, the Team Leader of the Ecological Solutions Solomon Islands and his fellow community members teamed up to improve the sustainable water supply to their village.
Speaking at the start of the project, David recalls that “there was a true spirit of community, as all worked together to make access to clean water a reality. Everyone in the community had a role to play and helped to keep the project on track.”
There is also no access to energy supply in Tuzu and an important element of this initiative was the use of solar energy and the installation of solar-powered pumps to extract water from the ground to the holding tanks, then supply water to the village. Moreover, it positively contributes toward the national goal of reducing carbon emissions.
“By using environmentally friendly practices, in less than two months, we achieved a 90 percent water supply to Tuzu village,” says David.
As the Ecological Solutions Solomon Islands prepares to hand over the project to the community, the team is prioritizing the construction of showers and sanitation areas for visitors as well as exchanging experiences with the RWASH team.
In the long run, it is important to ensure that the project outcomes would “continue to be self-supported and sustainable in order for Tuzu community members to have ongoing access to clean water,” concludes David.
Looking beyond the project scope, David emphasizes the importance of sustainability. “It is important to “expand and add additional water tanks and standing pipes when the community population continues to grow, including establishing water rules and small fees for water users, to make it possible for continuous maintenance of the water supply to the village.”
Barnabas Bago, National Programmes Coordinator, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) sees the Tuzu project as the one that has “great potential for scaling up and replication as well as to create sustainable solutions towards water security not only within the community but in the whole province.”
“Integrated water resource management and development is fundamental to ensure adequate and equitable access to safe drinking water and contributes to proper hygiene and improved livelihoods of the communities. And innovative projects like this ensure that local communities – especially women, youth, and persons with disabilities – are positioned as key partners for sustainable development and stewards of nature,” says Barnabas Bago. Clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) is a key enable to accelerate achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
Through the GEF Small Grants Programme, UNDP supports the advancement of climate-resilient livelihoods and resilient agricultural value chain development of vulnerable communities in the Solomon Islands, leaving no one behind.
The GEF Small Grants Programme provides financial and technical support to projects that conserve the global environment while enhancing people’s well-being and livelihoods. The Small Grants Programme in the Solomon Islands is implemented by UNDP Solomon Islands and has received financial assistance from the Global Environment Facility and the UK Government.