Using data to strengthen WaSH systems in the Pacific

sponsored by UNICEF Pacific

The economic and social well-being of Pacific Island Countries is dependent upon the quality and quantity of their water, but these countries face unique challenges in water management[1]. The ability of island countries to effectively manage the water sector is constrained by their small size, environmental fragility, vulnerability to a range of natural and anthropogenic hazards, and limited human and financial resource base.

The Pacific region has shown the lowest increase in access to improved drinking water and sanitation since 1990 in the world and did not achieve the MDGs.  Only 30% of people living in Pacific Island Countries have access to improved sanitation and 52% access to improved drinking water, though these regional statistics heavily reflect Papua New Guinea (PNG), with a population of over 7 million or 75% of the region. Besides PNG, countries with low rates of access to improved sanitation include Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia and Vanuatu. Pacific Island Countries are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and extreme events such as tropical cyclones, flooding, and droughts.

The Water Institute’s collaboration with the UNICEF Office for Pacific Island Countries aims to strengthen national WaSH systems (including monitoring) in the SDG era in Fiji, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands. In Fiji, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is preparing to launch a census of WaSH in health care facilities (HCF). This work will be supported by both UNICEF Pacific and the Water Institute, and builds on the Water Institute’s work on WaSH in HCF. In Vanuatu, the Water Institute will assist UNICEF Vanuatu and the Ministry of Geology and Mines on developing and strengthening systems to achieve SDG 6. In the Solomon Islands, the Water Institute is analyzing the rural WaSH baseline, conducted in late 2015, which contains data on household, school and HCFs.

In Fiji, the census will be one of the first to use the new WHO indicators for WaSH in HCF as well as a new survey tool developed by the Water Institute. Our work in Vanuatu will serve to strengthen policies and support the government’s new National Sustainable Development Plan, following its launch. The Solomon Islands analysis will inform programming and resource allocation by the Solomon Islands Government to improve WaSH service delivery.

[1] Pacific Regional Action Plan on Sustainable Water Management (SOPAC, 2002)

Water Institute Researchers and Staff

Jamie Bartram – Principal Investigator
Kate Shields – Lead Researcher
Lydia Abebe – Postdoctoral Scholar
Ryan Cronk – Graduate Research Assistant

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UNICEF Pacific / 2014 / Fiji / Alcock

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