GCU: East Makira Constituency has stepped up its focus on advancing the national government’s RWASH programme in its rural communities through the use of its ROC (Republic of China) component of its Rural Constituency Development Funds (RCDF).
Under the East Makira Constituency’s rural constituency development strategic plans for 2015 – 2018 devised by the Constituency Office and its’ two-term parliament representative Hon. Alfred Ghiro, they roll out their own initiated RWASH programme this year starting with the construction of a new water supply costing over SBD 300,000 for Natagera community on Santa Ana Island.
Natagera community has since the breakdown of its water supply system twenty years ago, has depended on its small fresh water stream which women had to fetch water from its outlet which opens out to sea a short distance from the village every day for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing.
This almost regimented duty becomes even more difficult to accomplish when the sea tide rises covering the mouth of the stream.
Despite the tides, it is a routine task each one has to take on a daily basis without hesitation since there is no other way of conveniently accessing water.
However, to their utmost delight the Constituency Office has taken deep concern of their hardship and responded positively to their request for rehabilitation of their old water supply system that had broken down many years ago.
The landing of water supply materials at Port Mary on Santa Ana on the 28th October along with the Constituency Office’s RWASH Technical Officer, George Karani and Natagera community’s water supply coordinator Mr. Joseph Warugutaia is well received with overwhelming outpouring of community support.
“The turnout of the Natagera community on the day of my arrival at Port Mary, which is the main port of call on Santa Ana, to carry their water supply materials to their village, about 5 kilometres away, has given me confidence of their total support behind this programme,” Mr Karani revealed.
Mr. Karani a former senior Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) Officer stressed that the success of any project in any community would only be one hundred percent successful if there is total community participation.
“I am amazed by the commitment and support that the men, women, boys and girls of Natagera community have shown from day one,” he added.
Mr Karani explained that the East Makira Constituency Office has prepared itself only for the rehabilitation of Natagera water supply that had broken down twenty-one years ago.
However, the turn of events just before work commences on the water source has prompted an immediate on-the-spot alternative plan which calls for the piping of a new water source and the construction of a new water supply dam using only the same materials which were meant for the rehabilitation.
“We were so fortunate that the materials meant for the rehabilitation of Natagera community’s old water supply is more than adequate for the alternative plan and we were able to salvage the situation comfortably,” Mr. Karani revealed.
“Such situations could only be remedied when you have the community’s total support, commitment and cooperation and I will always be indebted to the people of Natagera for the overwhelming support given to me and to the programmes of East Makira Constituency Office and the respect they have for our member of parliament, Hon. Alfred Ghiro”.
Mr Karani who also happens to be the Constituency Project Officer led out in the project. He was accompanied by the government’s Government Communication Officer from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, George Mackenzie Siapu to report on this RWASH programme.
The entire work included the building of a new water dam and the lining of 27 new polytine pipes which came in 15 rolls each at a length of 100 metres and 12 rolls each at a length of 200 metres respectively.
The new polytine pipes has replaced the old broken PVC pipes and the rusty galvanized GI pipes that were the remnants of the previous water supply system.
The young helping hands from the village youth and women have greatly appreciated the moral support from senior elders of the community led by Chief Peter Warugutaia, and Warren Tereqoroa an educated elite from the community who had spent much of his working life overseas.
His presence from day one until the water reached the community is a classical example of someone who maintains the social importance of communal work.
With the success of this first rolled out RWASH programme, East Makira Constituency Office has already in the pipeline water supply and rain-catchment projects awaiting funds to commence in the first six months of 2017 in the designated communities throughout the constituency.
“We will set our sights on the water needs of the community of Nafinuatogo and the Community High School in 2017 now with the success of Natagera water supply this year, EMC RWASH is on track”, Mr Ghiro said.
“Also, materials have already been secured for our ‘rain-catchment’ project for Maworona communities on Star Harbour and we have also prioritised Nawagari water supply,” he added.
The East Makira Constituency Office commenced its RWASH programme on Santa Ana because of the islands vulnerability to the various consequences of climate change particularly on the two communities of Natagera and Nafinuatogo villages both of which had not accessed tapped water since their water supply had broken down many years ago.
With the rising tides now evident on the island in recent years and coastal erosion, this observable fact poses devastating threat to their wells and small streams that can only be accessed through their openings from the rocks along the seashore.
“Therefore, it is important and to the benefit of both communities that they are provided with a water supply system to access rock springs that are situated in the middle of the island about 2 kilometres inland from their villages”, said Karani and at the same time he added, “these are water sources that are safely tagged away in the interior from the rising tides.
“The Constituency Development Committee has also considered water supply system for Nafinuatogo village and to the Santa Ana High School in preparation for its boarding plans and depending on the availability of funds there is likelihood of working on these two communities in 2017,” Mr Karani mentioned.
Meanwhile, citing the national government’s National Development Strategy 2016 – 2035 which focuses primarily on ‘improving the social and economic livelihood of all Solomon Islanders’, Mr Ghiro directed the East Makira Constituency Office to commence its’ RWASH programme this year to fulfil its responsibility in ensuring its’ rural villagers access water supply by adopting the government’s objective to ‘facilitate infrastructure development for efficient, effective and quality service delivery to rural communities in water supply and sanitation’.
It is the East Makira Constituency’s development plan to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all in line with the national government’s objective to achieve universal and equitable access to improved and affordable drinking water sources for all.
It is quite a challenging undertaking given the fact that East Makira Constituency is one of the country’s biggest constituencies with eight Wards and a population of close to 16,000 living in isolated and scattered communities inland, along the coast and on the two outlying islands of Santa Ana and Santa Catalina.
Clearly the East Makira Constituency Office is fully conscious of the provincial consultation process that had resulted in the government’s National Development Strategy 2016 – 2035 which highlighted and prioritised the importance of water supply and sanitation in rural areas.
Hopefully if the Ministry of Rural Development allocates to all constituencies specific funds for RWASH in 2017, already East Makira Constituency has established its blueprint upon which its RWASH programme would be implemented.
By George Mackenzie Siapu
Government Communication Unit