The Water Supply and Sanitation Program is set to positively impact approximately 5000 people through improving access to safe potable water, better sanitation and hygiene in schools, clinics and communities through the Central Guadalcanal province.
Work on the WASH program is underway as one of the key initiatives being funded by the Japanese Social Development Fund under the Community Benefit Sharing Program (CBSP) for the Tina river Hydropower Development Project.
Programs like these are not uncommon in the wider Pacific region but it is a first of its kind for the Solomon Islands to be associated with a big investment project with arrangements designed to be sustainable over the long term.
UNICEF Pacific, in partnership with the governments and civil society organisations, contributes to the rights of children to survival and development through improved drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene behaviour. It is on this basis that the Solomon Island Government is keen to see Tina not only deliver its primary purpose of more affordable and accessible electricity; but also, community initiatives that will improve health, education and the future of its people.
RATE School Principal Lyndon Philemon says this initiative is a game changer for his 500 plus students attending the school which is located in the Tina River community. “At times when the school runs out of water, we need to send the kids home half day. This interrupts their learning. This project will have huge benefits for our school community and play an important part in making this a better learning facility.”
The Project Office CBSP staff have engaged a local expert Boniface Talu as the Community Water Specialist, to supervise the work, provide detailed engineering design services, facilitate the planning, development and execution. With work already underway he remarks that ‘the investment in the water supply and sanitation instalments in the project communities within Bahomae-Malango region is significant.”
To make sure this initiative has long term sustainability, the team have carried out numerous consultations with the leaders in the communities regarding the scope of work. This is to ensure the communities and the Project team were on the same page to drive forward and achieve its goals and objectives.
To date, work on locating water sources through a GPS Data Survey is almost finalised, along with pipe route location, tank location and distribution tank location. The team have also completed a household count, mapping GPS coordinates, population count and service line and water main pipe distance measurements (m). Importantly, a survey for standpipe proposed locations in the communities has also been completed. All of the findings will be provided in a Community Survey Report, due by the end of July , which will help guide the initial planning, system designs and BOQs for the construction and installation of the selected water/WASH intervention packages.
With challenges such as scattered household locations and many village settlements , the team have work through various circumstances to ensure the affected communities are well informed and understand the project process and its intended outcomes. As a part of the process, the team are working on innovative solutions to combat the challenges faced around water source accessibility to the communities where logging and road construction has already damaged their water sources with water pollution.
In the plans for the future, the CBSP team will also train and invest in locals to be able to provide a technical backup service team for the continuous operation of the water supply system. It will also help establish a Local Water and Sanitation Division to manage the community infrastructure for the long running of the project which will likely include an office and a warehouse to facilitate the operation whenever there is a significant repair work is needed.
Through the construction of water and sanitation facilities for communities, schools and health centres; The Tina development will be able to support communities to achieve total sanitation coverage and set a precedent to showcase what can be done in other communities across the country.