More than 4000 people in seven communities affected by the Tropical Cyclone (TC) Harold in April 2020 will now benefit from the newly restored and constructed water supply system.
Previously, community members had to walk more than 1.5 kilometers to fetch water for cooking, drinking, cleaning and bathing. This support relieves the burden of women, children and carers for people with disabilities who often are the ones collecting water for family use.
Jointly funded by the Australian Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), this initiative came at the request of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in the aftermath of TC Harold to support the most affected communities in West Gudalcanal: Vatulovo Savoulu, Visale Community High School, Veuru, Mangakiki, Verahue, Hulavu and Selwyn College.
Mr Francis Sade, the Guadalcanal Province Premier, received the infrastructure and tools on behalf of the communities and thanked the development partners for this important effort during the project handover ceremony held at Visale on 13 October 2021.
“I would like to appeal to all the 490 households or the 4134 individual beneficiaries to take ownership of all these water supply infrastructures. We are grateful to our development partners such as UNDP and the Australian Government for reaching out to us during our most vulnerable moments. Thus, the responsibilities of ownership are now on your (communities) shoulders,” said Premier Sade.
Speaking on behalf of the recipient communities, Principal of Selwyn College Fr. Davidson Ngwaeramo noted, “our communities are prone to natural hazards such as cyclones, flooding and landslides which damage our water sources. This intervention is a blessing for us, so we must care for the water infrastructures.”
The UNDP’s Disaster Risk Management (DRM) project, which is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) with the financial support from the Australian Government, took on the initiative to work with the Guadalcanal Province and Rural WASH Programme of the Ministry of Health and Medical Service (MHMS) to construct the water supply systems.
Representing the National Disaster Council and the National Disaster Management Office, the Deputy Secretary (Technical), MECDM, Mr Chanel Iroi, expressed his gratitude to the development partners, the Provincial Government, Ministry of Health and Medical Services Rural WASH programme and ADRA for the productive collaboration.
“This project demonstrates the need for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction to utilize the existing arrangements defined by the National Disaster Management Plan 2018”, said Iroi.
As the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction was observed on the same day, the handover event was a reminder of how climate change can lead to developing countries experiencing even more extreme weather events in the future, which can have a disproportionate effect on vulnerable communities in terms of mortality and damage to critical infrastructure.
The theme for this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction highlights the need for deeper international co-operation so developing countries can reduce their disaster risk and disaster losses.
Speaking to this theme, the Acting Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Ms Sally Anne Vincent, highlighted the need for a stronger cooperation amongst development partners.
“Supporting rural community development is a key priority for Australia, and we are pleased to have been able to support this important work in partnership with the National Government through the MECDM and the NDMO, the Guadalcanal Provincial Administration, UNDP and ADRA,” said Acting High Commissioner Vincent.
She added, “This partnership highlights one of the key themes of disaster risk reduction – enhancing cooperation. It also ensures communities are safer and more resilient.”
Reinforcing the message, UNDP Country Manager, Mr Berdi Berdiyev, commended the strong partnership with the community-based organizations, NGOs and Government institutions at provincial and central levels that was forged during the implementation, noting that “this was a truly joint effort and is a good example of the importance of working together when responding to a disaster.”
UNDP helps countries manage and mitigate disaster risk through preparedness measures and pre-disaster recovery planning and strengthen early warning systems and develop contingency plans and support systems.