Bringing fresh water to school children in rural Papua New Guinea

Enjoying the fresh, clean water now available at many remote schools in the Eastern Highlands. Photo:Jerry Galea/Oxfam
Enjoying the fresh, clean water now
available at many remote schools in the
Eastern Highlands of PNG.

Oxfam and its partner ATprojects are providing safe water, sanitation solutions and hygiene education to primary schools in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, including schools in some very remote areas.

Much of Papua New Guinea’s population lives in small, remote communities. Road access is often very poor or there's simply no road access at all. Government services are few and far between. Only 20 per cent of people have clean water and less than 15 per cent of people have adequate sanitation.

Fighting disease

Poor sanitation and hygiene contributes toward the spread of easily-preventable but deadly water-borne illnesses such as diarrhoea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever. Children are often most vulnerable to these illnesses.

Despite great improvements in the past two decades, diseases caused by unclean water and inadequate sanitation will claim the lives of over one million children every year.

Oxfam and ATprojects are providing safe water, sanitation solutions and education in good health and hygiene practices to children and teachers. Over the last six years, the project has helped over 16,800 students in 48 schools.

Children dressed in tribal finery stand by their new toilets
Children dressed in tribal finery stand by their new toilets at the opening ceremony of the new water and sanitation facilities at Asaro school in the Eastern Highlands.

“The children are very proud of the new toilets because they helped to build them. It’s much healthier because we no longer have faeces around the school boundary," says the Headmaster of Kintinu Primary School.

"The children don’t get sick as often and are having to take fewer days off school.”

Long-term approach to improving health

ATprojects uses a long-term partnership approach that allows rural people to develop and use skills and relatively simple technologies to improve the community’s overall health and living conditions.

Oxfam and its partners are using appropriate technologies, investing in skills and training, and educating schoolchildren and the wider community in good hygiene practices. It is hoped that this knowledge will be passed on through the generations, making a lasting difference to the health of people in the Eastern Highlands.

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