RURAL Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) has seen a drop of AusAID funding on its budget from $13 million to $6 million this year.
The huge drop could be attributed to Australian government’s move to slash its foreign aid to the Pacific this year by further 3 billion US dollars in addition to a 7 billion US dollar reduction slated last May. .
It was reported that only Papua New Guinea and Nauru will be immuned from the cuts because they host detention centres.
WASH project coordinator, Jacob Makini said he has seen a drop in their budget and believes it will affect some of the projects to provide clean water and sanitations to the communities.
However, Makini said European Union has intervened to provide assistance in the ongoing programmes.
He said EU is likely to provide $120 million, which will run in a five-year programme.
He said WASH will need to push hard to access the EU funds because it goes straight into the basket in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
He said unlike the AusAID funding, it was channelled through the Ministry of Finance but purposely for RWASH projects.
A high level insider in the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination said the health department needs to work smarter and harder to get internal revenues to supplement the gaps.
He said AusAID funding are short term, therefore there is need to ensure capacity needs to be filled up.
The insider said most of AusAID funding was spent on technical assistants or advisors while small components had trickled down to the capital budget.
He said AusAID funding dropped due to the scale down of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
“Solomon Islands has never received such big aid assistance from Australia in the past until when RAMSI intervened,” he said.
RAMSI intervened in 2003 to restore law and order following the ethnic conflict on Guadalcanal.
By EDDIE OSIFELO