Port Vila, 28 November 2017: Today is a day of celebration for Vanuatu, particularly children and women on Malo Island, as the largest water system in Vanuatu spanning 44km benefitting over 2,000 people is launched. 

Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Ralph Regenvanu stated, “This project has pulled together many key partners of the government to address the crucial need for safe water, sanitation and hygiene in the communities on Malo Island in line with the National Water Strategy’s vision of sustainable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation for the people of Vanuatu.”

East Malo communities no longer have to rely on rainwater but now have access to piped water that is more reliable during the dry season. Situated just outside of Santo, Malo Island’s 19 villages on the east side will benefit from the construction of the largest water system in Vanuatu. 

Andrew Parker, UNICEF Vanuatu’s Chief of Field Office stated, “UNICEF is proud to support the Government and partners in the water and sanitation sector to implement a project that has far reaching benefits for women and children.” He added, “Due to Vanuatu’s vulnerability to natural hazards a focus on increasing the community’s resilience is key.” 

As part of the Government’s Water and Sanitation Sector Strengthening Project, the NZD2.5 million Malo project in East Malo, West Ambae, and Malekula is a collaboration between the Department of Water Resources – Ministry of Land & Natural Resources, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), and the United Nations Children’s Fund together with World Vision International Vanuatu.

“Improving access to safe water and sanitation for people and communities is part of New Zealand’s commitment to improving health outcomes in Vanuatu,” said New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Georgina Roberts. “New Zealand is pleased to have supported the Government of Vanuatu and partners to deliver reliable safe water and sanitation to the people of Malo, contributing to improved health and wellbeing, which underpins Vanuatu’s social and economic development.”

Since April 2016 when the Malo project began, communities have accessed improved sanitation through construction of 300 household toilets using local materials as well as improved hygiene practices through participatory hygiene and sanitation trainings for all communities. Community action plans, including drinking water safety and security planning, has also led to sustained benefits for communities.

“The children of East Malo will not forget the day water came to their school. Women sing for joy now they no longer have to walk several hours to collect water and the men are proud that their sweat from digging the pipeline has resulted in safe water for their communities,” said Michael Wolfe, World Vision Country Director. “World Vision is honoured to partner with the Vanuatu government, MFAT and UNICEF to enable access to safe water for 100 per cent of the population of East Malo with dedicated staff together with community members across East Malo to help achieve great results,” he added.

Community ownership through effective water management committee with strong representation from woman is vital. A total of 13 water sanitation and hygiene committees with one umbrella committee were established in East Malo that includes more than 40 per cent women.