The village of Pewana in Kokoda Constituency, Central Bougainville, has celebrated the completion of a water, sanitation and hygiene project. The project has met the needs of their growing population and brought the community closer together.
49-year-old Simon Sara applied for a community grant in 2016 to address his coastal village’s water shortages and poor sanitation. Previously, the community had only one water hose available for nearly 500 people.
“People were going up to the cliff to get water from a small stream. There were no toilets, so everyone went to two points on the beach. Water and sanitation was becoming a problem because the population was getting bigger,” Simon recalled.
“On Sundays, many people want to wash and go to church services. There used to be a big line, with people using one hose from a mountain stream. There was sometimes fighting over the hose and collecting water for cooking and laundry was much slower.”
In July 2018, Simon travelled to Arawa to sign a community grant for 93,000 Kina,supported by the Australian Government in partnership with the Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Governments. Simon as project chairman also attended a one-week training with the secretary and treasurer to learn how to construct and manage the project.
With Simon’s existing skills as a builder, he managed the project on behalf of the village and was connected with a water specialist to learn basic plumbing.
In addition to the grant, the community contributed their own funds and in-kind materials and labour.
“We had to contribute 10 per cent, so we raised money for the materials – over 5,000 Kina. We also donated trees for timber, gravel, food for meals and manpower to get the job done,” said Simon.
Seven toilets, five dams, two water storage tanks and 24 tap and shower points were completed in just three months. The whole village came together to contribute to the project.
“Families in different locations were grouped together, with both men and women working on project tasks. Two storage tanks were constructed about three kilometres up the mountain to store water from the dams. Supply lines from the two storage tanks were then fed into the main village and surrounding hamlets. Each of the seven toilets and 24 water and shower combination taps were then connected tothe water supply,” Simon explained.
Before this project came to Pewana, Simon said the village felt “neglected”, and seen as “uneducated” with many “raskols”. However, since the project has been implemented, he said there has been a positive shift in community behaviour.
“Now people are keeping the place clean. They have a caring attitude. When the water and toilets came to their houses, people changed their mindsets and there has been less drinking at night.”
Simon also said there has been increasing interest from nearby communities who are keen to learn more about the project to install similar systems in their own villages and households.
The Pewana water, sanitation and hygiene project was officially opened on 24 July,and attended by more than 500 people from the village and surrounding areas.
Jeffrey Kop from the Australian High Commission attended the event. “This project demonstrates how communities can work together to solve their own development challenges. Not only has this project met the community’s need for water,sanitation and hygiene, but also brought the community together and instilled a sense of pride in their village,” he said.