Category: Water Published: Friday, 14 November 2014 23:37
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Every Ni-Vanuatu citizen should have access to safe water in sufficient quantities to meet basic needs, including drinking, cooking and sanitation. The relatively abundant supply of fresh water in Vanuatu should further increase livelihoods opportunities and be fully harnessed to improve the overall economic standing of the country, both now and in the future.

As Vanuatu's population grows, demands on existing water sources will increase. These demands when combined with the increasing risk of pollution and climate-related changes could be expected to limit the future availability of potable water, constrain its productive use and impact negatively on Vanuatu's most precious resource, its pristine natural environment.

The National Water Strategy aims to address these issues by overcoming constraints that limit sustainable development of the water sector including factors related to finances, human resources, institutions and operations. In doing so, it gives effect to certain directives of the ni-Vanuatu Government such as for Physical Planning Areas (PPAs) requiring detailed strategies and plans for all the Government Departments.

The mission of the department of water is to develop and manage the nation's water resources for the social and economic well being of the people of Vanuatu with a vision to make sure 'sustainable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation for the people of Vanuatu to support improved public health and promote social and economic development'.

To achieve the above-said, the department will strive in working towards acquiring and maintaining up-to-date knowledge of the country's land mass by means of systematic hydrological, hydrogeological and geotechnical surveys. A lot of data have was destroyed in The 7th June 2007 Courthouse fire incident and will need to be re-collected, compiled in computers so that they can be used to promote environmental management of the urban harbours, lagoons and important watersheds. In addition, the department maintains the only national drilling capacity to assist in the provision of water and geo-technical investigations.

Located at Georges Pompidou in Port Vila, the newly established department of Water will be under the supervision of the Director who is directly responsible to the Director General of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

The Section has two Units being the Rural Water Supply and the Water Resources Management Sections.

Rural water Supply

Groundwater Drilling Machinery at work.
Groundwater Drilling machinery at work.

It is responsible for ensuring that rural communities have access to a fresh and clean water supply and that water resources, in these rural communities, are properly utilized to promote rural economic development.

In relation to water supply delivery, the development of rural water system(s) is being or can be achieved either through water supply systems such as direct feed system, indirect gravity feed, rainwater catchments or by the drilling of boreholes that are equipped hand pumps.

Expanding water supply coverage in the rural areas can only be considered a success if people have access to safe and clean water supply system(s). It aims to do so by:

1. Constructing technical water supply systems such as Nira Hand Pumps throughout rural areas.

2. Provide technical support on the corrective and preventative measure of old and new supply system.

3. Provide plumbers and water committees on financial management training and provide training for village plumbers, sanitarians and village water committees.

4. Maintain the department's drilling capacity as a national asset for both public and private services.

5. Provide efficient business unit on water related issues to public.

6. Re-establish a Rural Water Supply Database (The database was lost as a result the 7th of June 2007 Courthouse Fire Incident) to aid in decision-making.

7. Manage water supply systems in order to better serve local communities.

8. Manage planning, surveying, designing and construction of water supply systems.

Water Resource Management

WR officer Monitoring Water Flow
Water Resource Officer Monitoring River Flow.

Due to the fragility of Vanuatu's Water Resources, it is important to ensure that its Water Resources are used in sustainable ways.

They should be managed in such ways that water quantity during times of droughts and flooding are effectively and efficiently managed to ensure Vanuatu's people are not adversely affected.

Also, assuring water quality, especially at water drinking sources, is of primordial importance.

These are the two primary responsibilities, in relation to Water resource Management, monitoring the quality of water bodies of interest and managing their quantities. It aims to do so by:

1. To monitor, manage and plan for the sustainable use of both ground and surface water resources, and build a systematic inventory of the resources.

2. To provide technical input in to the project planning development in the area of hydro-power, geothermal and water supply projects.

3. To monitor surface and ground water levels as well as.

4. To perform water quality testing as requested.

5. To collect baseline hydrological data on potential mining prospecting sites.

6. To maintain surface and groundwater databases, including water chemistry records, used as a planning tool for water supply, geothermal and hydropower across Vanuatu.

7. To provide technical advice on matters related to water resources and its development.

8. To implement and enforce the Water Resources Management Act.

9. To monitor Coastal Water quality to ensure the environmental protection of Vanuatu.

10. To establish methods for sampling and collection of water data in lagoon and coastal areas of Port Vila including Luganville.