Clean water and sanitation in rural Vanuatu

Despite being a tourist destination, Vanuatu is one of the poorest countries in Melanesia and faces many problems. A key issue is the absence of safe water and adequate sanitation, which causes poor health and disease and severely restricts rural communities’ economic and social development.

Very few people in Vanuatu have access to a clean, safe water supply. Photo: Andy Thomson/Oxfam
Very few people in Vanuatu have access to a clean, safe water suppl

Less than 50 per cent of the rural population has access to a reliable, safe and fully functioning water supply. Another 40 per cent only has access to a system that is in need of repair. Adding to this problem is the destruction caused by cyclones, which frequently hit Vanuatu. These cyclones often destroy crops, roads and homes while polluting drinking water and waterways. Any water and sanitation facilities established in the country need to be cyclone-proof.

Community partnership

Oxfam is working with the Vanuatu Rural Development and Training Centre Association (VRDTCA) to improve access to safe water and sanitation in rural communities.

With our assistance, VRDTCA is constructing cyclone-proof Rural Training Centres. These centres provide a place for training opportunities for young people to learn valuable skills, while the water tanks and sanitation facilities built alongside the centres provide an essential source of safe water for the whole community.

The vocational skills education programme provides training in the construction of buildings, water and sanitation facilities. This means that the skills to construct and maintain the water and sanitation facilities remain in the community, leading to the ability to build more facilities in the future.

Willy Naieu explains what we have achieved

Oxfam New Zealand and VRDTCA have already constructed cyclone-proof Rural Training Centres in six communities. Of these, four have water and sanitation facilities and the remaining two are under construction. These new water and sanitation facilities have greatly improved the training centres, making them more appealing to teachers and attracting more students.

Willy Naieu, manager of the Lorakau Village Rural Training Centre. Photo: Jane Ussher
Willy Naieu, manager of the Lorakau Village Rural Training Centre.

Willy Naieu, manager of the Rural Training Centre in Lorakau Village, says that Oxfam’s support has made a significant difference to the community. “Before, the community had to go down to the creek to fetch their water, but sometimes the creek would be dry. Now with our new water tank when it rains the tank remains full and the community and students just come to get it.”

Willy also explains that cyclone-proofing the facilities has made a significant difference:

“Before, the centre was made of local materials and the school was not safe, especially the books, and the community had nothing to shelter in. But now the community is very happy because in the future when they have to face a cyclone all the school equipment and the students will have something to hide inside. In the old buildings, even when it rained all the books would get wet as we didn’t have louvres, just open windows, and each time we would have to source new teaching materials. Now we have an office and storage room that’s safe and dry.

“Thank you to VRDTCA and Oxfam NZ and the community members who helped build Lorakau RTC to the stage it is now.”

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