Today marks World Water Day, a day of celebration and reflection on a precious natural resource and on our role in its management and protection.
This year is also the International Year of Water Cooperation – a theme of enormous significance to the Pacific. Across the region, water management is a critical development issue with profound implications for economic growth, human rights, public health and the environment. To put the scale of the issue in context, it has been estimated by UNICEF and WHO that little more than half the population of our region has access to improved drinking water and sanitation.
There are clearly major challenges ahead, but today, SPC joins its member countries and territories in celebrating the real progress being achieved through building water partnerships.
In Fiji, the collaborative work of the Nadi Basin Catchment Committee is enabling practical solutions to reduce the human impacts of flooding. This pioneering work demonstrates what can be achieved when communities, agencies and the private sector come together to face a problem that is not solvable through the efforts of individuals.
Innovative technologies continue to be developed and shared across the region. Tuvalu has been particularly active in sharing the knowledge behind its tremendous success in using composting toilets to reduce both use of fresh water and pollution of groundwater lenses and coastal lagoons.
In Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and Marshall Islands, government sectors are joining forces at a subregional level to raise awareness of water and sanitation issues and find solutions to common problems. Our Melanesian members too have begun collaboration to better respond to the development issue of access to safe drinking water and sanitation. With SPC’s support, the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat will shortly appoint a Water and Sanitation Access Facilitator to help develop policy and practical solutions in MSG countries.