Improved health for Solomon Islands tsunami survivors

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Joylyn Sau from Venga village, collects water from a newly installed water tank that provides clean water close to home. Venga communities’ water sources was damaged last year during a tsunami that swept through eastern Solomon Islands.

World Vision is helping to bring clean water and improve sanitation for people of who were affected by an 8.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that swept through an eastern province of the Solomon Islands last year.

The project provides water supply infrastructure and training on water system management for 29 communities on Santa Cruz island in Temotu province.

Sanitation and hygiene training, and basic health awareness activities also aimed to improve sanitation practices and reduce disease burden for communities, giving them more time to fully participate in educational and economic opportunities.

Venga, one of the hardest-hit communities in terms of the number of lives lost and structural damage, will have 11 tanks installed, four of which will be installed at the primary school. Nine toilets will be built for the school and will help improve the sanitation practices and health of 150 children and allow them more time to study and play.

“I am also very happy that our school now has toilet and washing facilities this year. It will help us keep clean and healthy and willing to learn,” said Joylyn Sau, class 5 student.

David Nabali, 32, Chairman of Venga Disaster Risk Reduction Committee says the project has helped the community access safe and clean drinking water.

“We are very lucky to have this project and acknowledge World Vision for the kind assistance and the support of the donors to enable this to happen,” said Nabali. “Before the project we used to fetch drinking water at the spring on the beach but only when the tide is low. When the tide comes up the water is dirty and salty.”

Nabalai says installation of the water tanks allows people to access water close to home and cuts down on time spent collecting water at the spring.

“People in the community, especially women, who walk to the spring every day to fetch water, will also have time to do other household chores instead of spending more time there”.

Temotu WASH Co-ordinator, Bartholomeu Mesa, said the project is on schedule and includes water tanks for rain catchment, gravity-fed stand pipes for communities, and toilet facilities for schools.

“All tanks and construction materials have been delivered to the communities and construction work has been ongoing since December and is progressing well. Most of the communities will have one or two tanks installed and some communities are now using the facilities,” he said.

In Nea, two gravity stand pipes have been installed and are supplying water for the residents, and another eight gravity pipes are to be constructed. World Vision also repaired pipes that were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami. 

Michael Palu, Nea Nemboi Community Development Committee member says the new stand pipes are improving lives in his community.

“Had it not been for World Vision we would still have to walk a few miles up the bush to fetch water at the spring for drinking and washing,” Palu said.

“Parents are very happy that their children are now able to have a proper wash in the mornings before they go to school. The school’s new toilet facilities are also a blessing for our children.”

The project is funded by the European Union, UNICEF and World Vision Australia. It uses the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) methodology to encourage changed hygiene behaviour and improve sanitation. This will be the second project to use the CLTS methodology in Solomon Islands and continues World Vision’s and UNICEF’s commitment to bring CLTS to the Solomon Islands and help work towards making all of Solomon Islands open-defecation free.

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