Joy and relief were in plentiful supply when World Vision and community members recently commissioned seven new water supply systems in Vanuatu’s Sanma Province.
“I want to sincerely thank World Vision and its donors for responding to our cry of 40 years for water near our homes. Thank you for this blessing,” said Chief Robinson during the ceremony in Lajmoli.
The new systems enable some 6,000 people to gain access to clean water for the first time in their lives. Local water committees have learnt how to operate and maintain the new infrastructure so the communities will still have clean water long after World Vision has gone.
Two school toilets with hand washing facilities have also been installed and 20 demonstration Ventilated Improved Pit toilets have been built as models for community members to replicate. More than half of all households have since made an effort to construct their own toilet.
Another important part of this water and sanitation project was a training program to help communities prevent the spread of diarrhoeal diseases. All seven communities are now following better hygiene practices.
The project has been extremely positive for people’s health. “There has been a decrease in the number of diseases spread through poor water supply and bad sanitation practices,” explained a local nurse.
“There is a noticeable difference in the physical health and wellbeing of the community. A big improvement! Before we could see little children with eye infections and skin diseases, such as ringworm and scabies. Now these are noticeably absent.”
There’s also been an improvement in gender relations. For the first time, women are being included in decision-making processes and taking on leadership roles in the water committees.
“I was elected to the committee and am very proud. It is unusual to have a woman on a committee and contribute to decisions. I feel more respected by my husband, my status has improved and I am taking more of a leadership role also in the religious group of which I am a part,” said one female water committee member.