Yaren, July 3, 2012: Nauru is pushing forward with action to deal with one of the country’s most significant development hurdles, water and sanitation.
“In February this year Nauru released its first National Water and Sanitation Policy to address the significant threats, identify key response areas and ensure the water and sanitation needs of a wide range of stakeholders is met,” Haseldon Buraman, National Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Coordinator, said. “We have since produced an implementation plan to turn that policy into action.”
Water supply and sanitation issues in Nauru are amongst the most complex and challenging in the world. Frequent and severe droughts, increasing demand for freshwater, and pollution threats to its limited groundwater supply put Nauru in a precarious situation. Added to this is Nauru’s reliance on aging infrastructure and energy-intensive desalination, the challenge of securing sustainable funding sources, and coping with the projected impacts of climate change.
These are all issues that the Government of Nauru hopes to overcome through applying an integrated approach to managing its scarce water resources.
“The scale of the problem and the issues we need to deal with go beyond traditional infrastructure interventions. Developing the policy has shown that we need to improve governance, capacity and community participation and ensure that water and sanitation issues are tackled by all of government not just the agencies traditionally associated with water resources management,” Mr Buraman said. “The fact that we have formed a whole of government Water Technical Committee is testament to just how seriously we in Nauru take this problem.”
Working with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SPC SOPAC), Nauru has adopted a whole of government approach for addressing 38 priority issues over the next 15 years. The issues fall under seven key themes: Climate variability and change and water resource vulnerability, water quality and supply, sanitation and environment, demand, governance, capacity, and community awareness and participation.
A range of short, medium and long-term activities have been selected to address the priority issues under these themes and to fulfil the Government’s policy goals and objectives. The agencies responsible for carrying out these activities have been identified as have time lines for completion. In addition, a mechanism for monitoring and reporting progress of the Plan is included as well as for reviewing and revising the Policy and Plan, when necessary.
To help move things forward, Nauru worked with SOPAC and the European Union (EU) to enlist the support of Professor Ian White of the Australian National University’s College of Medicine Biology and the Environment. Professor White believes that much good work has been done, and that Nauru can achieve full water security with the right commitment and community participation.
“Nauru faces many challenges. Without adequate and safe water supplies and appropriate sanitation it cannot address current and future development needs,” Professor White said. “Water is truly everyone’s business. The success of this Policy and Implementation Plan will depend on Government’s whole-hearted support and the encouragement and engagement of communities in the implementation process.”
The development of Nauru’s Water and Sanitation Policy and Implementation Plan is part of an ongoing regional effort by the EU-funded IWRM National Planning Programme to develop national plans and policies in Pacific island countries. The Programme draws on the practical experience and lessons learned through the Regional IWRM Demonstration Project, supported by the Global Environment Facility. Both projects are based out of SOPAC in Suva.
Contact: Tiy Chung, SOPAC Communications Advisor, Phone: +679 338 1377 (ext 290) or Mobile: +679 998 7586