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Pacific community marks World Water Day

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20 March 2015, Suva - On 22 March each year, Pacific Island countries and territories pause to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of their fresh water resources to sustainable development.

 



However, with World Water Day on Sunday falling a little over a week since the region experienced a severe tropical cyclone, the thoughts of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and people across the Pacific are with those affected by cyclone Pam.

The cyclone has left thousands with limited or no access to safe drinking water and sanitation, dramatically demonstrating the region’s vulnerability to the water-related impacts of climate variability and climate change.

The extent of the drinking water and sanitation needs for those affected by the cyclone – in particular in Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – is being determined by their respective governments who are leading the response.

The World Health Organisation and UNICEF recently estimated that around half the population of the Pacific has access to improved water supplies, while only one-third has access to improved sanitation.

 

This means that, across the region, more than 6.6 million people continue to live without access to safe sanitation and more than 4.5 million people endure potentially unsafe drinking water.  Most of these people live in rural areas or remote outer islands, and in growing informal urban settlements.

According to SPC Director General, Colin Tukuitonga, addressing this serious development issue is a challenge that requires a fundamental shift in efforts by countries and partners.

“World Water Day is a time for us in the Pacific to acknowledge that water is everybody’s business, and that increased efforts are required at all levels to help secure safe water and sanitation for all, in all conditions,” Dr Tukuitonga said.

Speaking at Fiji’s national World Water Day celebrations in Nadi today (Friday), SPC Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer Iva Koroisamanunu acknowledged the challenge ahead for families seeking to restore access to safe drinking water and sanitation following cyclone Pam.

“For many Pacific communities, maintaining daily access to safe drinking water and sanitation is already a significant challenge,” Ms Koroisamanunu said.  “In the Pacific, the serious impacts of climate variability and natural hazards can make this challenge even more difficult,” she said.

Media contacts:

Rhonda Robinson, Deputy Director, SPC Water and Sanitation Programme, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or +679 9934770
Dave Hebblethwaite, Water Governance Coordinator, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or +679 9983059

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has a Water and Sanitation Programme that works across the region to assist Pacific island countries and territories demonstrate the benefits of improved water and sanitation management on the ground. This work is made possible with the support of many partners, among them the New Zealand Aid Programme and the European Union.

The theme of World Water Day 2015 is Water and Sustainable Development. More information on World Water Day can be found at www.unwater.org/worldwaterday.

More information on water management in the Pacific can be found at www.pacificwater.org.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 June 2015 10:42  

Newsflash

Friday 9 May 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Suva, Fiji - Deep sea minerals have the potential to be a game changer for the Pacific. Whether they will bring a change for the good or the bad will be determined by the financial management of governments and their ability to adopt and enforce sensible environmental safeguards.

If revenue is managed transparently and prudently while protecting the environment, deep sea minerals could greatly improve the economies and livelihoods of the Pacific Islands countries.

To address these issues, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is holding a regional workshop, the fifth in its technical training series. This workshop will be held in Cook Islands on 13–16 May and will centre on the ‘Financial Aspects’ of the upcoming deep sea minerals industry.

The workshop will bring together more than 60 Pacific Island government minerals and finance officials and experts from around the globe for the first regional event of its kind on managing the potential wealth generated from the extraction of deep sea minerals. Although deep sea mining is yet to occur world-wide, there is much commercial interest in mineral formations, such as nodules, crusts and seafloor massive sulphides that have been discovered on the seabed, thousands of metres below sea-level, particularly in the Pacific Ocean.