AFTER more than 20 years, the people of Nanngu community on the island of Santa Cruz, Temotu Province, now have a reliable and safe water supply system.
The water supply, built by community members, working with a contractor under the Community Resilience to Climate and Disaster Risks in Solomon Islands Project (CRISP), was opened on October 19.
“Now that we have water right there in front of our houses, we no longer need to spend time, searching and collecting water. We can use that time to make more food gardens and take care of our family,” says Nanngu Community High School head teacher, Miriam Tika.
Two decades without proper water
Like Miriam, the people of Nanngu have lived with severe water difficulties for more than two decades.
“We have been without a proper water supply since Cyclone Nina in 1993 destroyed the water supply,” said village chief and former Temotu premier, Father Brown Beu.
The cyclone, forced Nanngu’s 800 plus community members to rely on two damaged tap stands.
“Our people suffered, the water barely flowed and we had to wait for hours to get water from the two taps. It was common to wait until past midnight to get water,” Father Beu added.
To get drinking water, the community relied on three rainwater tanks, but the supply was inadequate.
And when the rain stopped, people had to walk for hours to a stream or paddle to a neigbouring island for water.
At times the school was closed early to allow students to go in search of water for their families.
In early 2015 CRISP began early assessment work at Nanngu and by February the project was approved and a ground breaking ceremony was held.
The community was mobilized along with a contractor, to begin ground work for the water supply.
This involved building concrete weir for the water source, laying pipes to the village and building pipe stands together with transmission and distribution pipes, using high quality materials provided by the project.
On October 19, the people of Nanngu community celebrated the handing over of the water supply system to the community by the Ministry of Environment Climate Change Disaster Management & Meteorology (MECDM) and the Temotu Provincial Government.
“This water supply is a good example of the Solomon Islands Government, working with the provincial government and the support of donors to help people overcome a risk they are facing, in this case poor water,” said Permanent Secretary of MECDM, Melchior Mataki.
In opening the water supply, Temotu’s Premier Nelson Menale welcomed the benefits of the new water supply, “this will allow community members to pursue economic activity, improve education and health services.”
The water source is 83 meters above sea level.
The water flows by gravity feed through 3.7km pipeline that feeds 15 standpipes in the community, including the school and Nanngu’s health centre.
The CRISP project is implemented by the MECDM with the aim of strengthening the resilience of communities against natural hazards and the impacts of climate change.
The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility Least Development Country Fund and the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery Grant under the African Caribbean Pacific–European Union Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Program.
“I am pleased to see that an idea that has come out from the community has been brought to reality through this project,” said the European Union Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, H.E Leonidas Tezapsidis.
In 2013, Nanngu was among the communities on Santa Cruz that were affected by a major earthquake and tsunami.
Homes were destroyed, food gardens were washed away and terrified villagers fled to the hills, where continuous aftershocks kept them away from their homes for weeks.
“The new water supply will help make Nanngu more resilient to the impacts of climate change and natural hazards that this community has experienced including cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis,” said World Bank’s Solomon Islands Country Manager, Anne Tully.
CRISP operates in Temotu Province and Guadalcanal Province.