More than 12,000 people across 20 communities in Morobe Province now have better health standards and livelihood opportunities, with the official opening of new solar systems and water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) facilities.
Australian High Commissioner to PNG, His Excellency Jon Philp joined the community in Nasing, Finschhafen District, Morobe Province at the opening ceremony on Wednesday 19th October 2022.
The new WaSH facilities in 20 communities across the districts of Finschhafen, Markham, Tewai-Siassi, Huon, Bulolo and Nawaeb include gravity-fed water supply for the communities, 80 laundry and shower areas, and 80 latrines, separated for males and females.
In partnership with the Environmental Health Development Agency, a PGK3.9 million grant through Incentive Fund helped to construct the new facilities.
The grant funded 310 kitchen and stand taps at 17 schools, seven health posts and 28 churches. The new facilities have already had an impact on community health, with waterborne diseases reduced by over 60 percent.
“Before this project, we had no reliable access to water,” said Mr. Allan Siwas, WaSH Committee Chairman and Kuruwe Village leader.
“Now, we can be clean and healthy all the time, and have so many options for new businesses and for our children to be safe in school. We are so grateful to the Government of Australia for these new facilities.”
In addition to the WaSH facilities, a PGK1.8 million Pawarim Komuniti grant also provided 210 street lighting and 60 indoor lighting systems, all powered by solar, Finschhafen and Tewai-Siassi districts.
Local communities supplied labour and transport for the projects, ensuring the skills and understanding for the maintenance of the infrastructure is kept close to the projects.
Vulnerable and marginalised members of the community were also engaged throughout both design and construction, building their skills and livelihood opportunities.
“The strong community engagement model used by this project serves as a model for other projects. With the support of the PNG-Australia Partnership, we have delivered training in sanitation and livelihoods, including food security, to community members,” said Ms. Matilda Kuahen, EHDA’s WaSH Manager
“I was hugely impressed at the contributions and commitment from the participating communities across Morobe, and I am confident the benefits of these new facilities will be felt for years to come,” said High Commissioner Philp.
“The importance of these facilities for women and girls cannot be understated. They not only increase safety, but women and girls have more time to go to school or work as they need to spend up to 94 percent less time collecting water”, he concluded.
The provision of solar lighting at the WaSH stations also improves the accessibility of the infrastructure leading to improved personal hygiene, safety, and health outcomes.
Mrs. Elizabeth Akes of Malasiga village, Finschhafen, is excited about what this means for women and girls in the community: “Our girls used to feel unsafe and get harassed when collecting water or going to the toilet.
“With these new facilities, we all feel safer. Some women are already using their extra available time to weave bilums that they can sell to support their families.”
The PNG-Australia Partnership is supporting reliable, safe WaSH and solar facilities for communities all over PNG, including to ensure women and girls have privacy and security when using facilities or collecting water.