Better health: water, sanitation and hygiene education

Oxfam is supporting the design and construction of rural infrastructure, including classrooms, water supply services and toilets. Design and construction of the infrastructure is undertaken by students trained at the Vanuatu Rural Development Training Centres. - See more at:

Oxfam is working with the Vanuatu Rural Development and Training Centre Association (VRDTCA) to help rural communities build water supply services and sanitation facilities at Rural Training Centres.

Since 2003, Oxfam has built eight new RTCs. We are currently working with VRDTCA to upgrade three RTCs to meet the growing educational and water and sanitation needs of students and local communities.Oxfam is helping VRDTCA to increase the number of young people taking up vocational training and to provide a healthy and safe environment for students.

We are supporting the installation of more water and sanitation services. We also encourage the use of cyclone-proof construction techniques and materials for RTCs to they can provide a safe refuge for communities during storms, cyclones or other natural disasters.  

Oxfam’s aim is that all students and local communities will have access to safe water and sanitation facilities provided at the RTCs. This allows the entire community to enjoy improved health and hygiene.

We are:  

  • Training students in the construction and maintenance of water and sanitation facilities
  • Supporting and training VRDTCA to implement water and sanitation projects in nearby communities, including building toilets and hosting health awareness workshops


  • Each new RTC has its own latrine, a 5000-litre water tank and tap stand.
  • Fresh water is harvested from the roof into water tanks for every day use.
  • The skills and knowledge needed to construct and maintain the water and sanitation facilities remain in the community.
  • Communities have the ability to build more facilities in the future.
  • Access to safe water allows students to put into practice their learning on good hygiene and sanitation, food preparation and also on irrigating crops.

Lorakau RTC

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."

The water tank and latrines onsite has meant the students can put in to practice their lessons such as hand-washing and food preparation, or irrigating the extensive vegetable patch full of taro, yams, cabbage and coffee plants.

The accessible flow of fresh, clean water has also allowed for a boys' and girls' dormitory to be built for students who live too far to travel each day.

With everyone lending a helping hand in the construction of the community’s new centre, there is a real sense of pride in the building with the desire and new skills to maintain it. The centre also doubles as a community centre at night and on the weekends for adult learning classes and church meetings.

“In the future those students who gain some skills can go back to their community and help build the family houses, set up small businesses and farming and also find a job in the town – that’s very privileged for them because without that opportunity they would just do nothing,” Willy says.