The Minister for National Planning and Monitoring, Hon. Richard Maru, announced that there is overwhelming demand for WaSH services delivery for Secondary Boarding Schools in PNG.
Minister Maru made this observation after he released a media statement announcing the Marape/Steven Government’s shift in focus in implementing PNG’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) Policy 2015-2030 targeting rural secondary boarding schools. In the media release Minister Maru also issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) for schools to partner with NGOs or firms to deliver WaSH services to secondary boarding schools.
As a result of this media release, there was overwhelming response from secondary boarding schools right around the country justifying the Government’s push to shift WaSH development intervention in this direction.
Maru stated: “In my own conviction as the WaSH Minister and therefore that of the Marape/Steven Government, there is a greater need to address WaSH access in our secondary boarding schools in order for us to make some strong headway in our development endeavour to reach the 100% target for WaSH services delivery for educational institutions by 2030. This conviction is confirmed by the overwhelming response to the EOI that I released. We had to extend the deadline by a week because a lot of our secondary boarding schools are located in the most remote and inaccessible areas of our country and it took them longer than the two weeks’ time frame stated in the EOI to prepare their proposals. Headmasters of these schools expressed gratitude to the government for addressing this challenge after so many years of neglect.”
“Nobody can deny the fact that there is a general lack of WaSH services in secondary boarding schools leading to high levels of absenteeism, drop in academic standards and high incidences of breakouts of water borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Young girls are often the victims in these situations.
The Government cannot just sit back and let this situation deteriorate beyond repair. It decided to act decisively to address this development challenge for the betterment of our children’s’ and the country’s future”, Maru said.
DNPM being the custodian of the WaSH Policy and leading policy implementation in the sector secured funds from the 2019 Development Budget for rural and urban water supply. Funds from this allocation has been packaged and programmed to address WaSH in secondary boarding schools. Minister Maru in his wisdom having traveled the length and breadth of PNG convinced the government and therefore directed DNPM to go in this direction.
Minister Maru stressed the following: “I have traveled the length and breadth of our country and often observed that secondary boarding schools are worst off when it comes to the delivery of WaSH services. Compounded by geographical locations and inaccessible socio-economic infrastructure the students, especially young girls often fall victims to this long term neglect. The government and country owes it to our future generation to address this issue once and for all so that their future is bright.”
As a way forward, Minister Maru concluded by saying: “WaSH services delivery capacity is lacking at all levels of the services delivery chain and in this case, it is also lacking at the school’s levels. This is the reason why we called for partnerships with NGOs and firms, who have the experience and capacity to deliver WaSH services, to partner with schools to ensure projects are effectively delivered.
To ensure transparency and accountability my Department will sit down with the Department of Education to select the schools based on the selection criteria that has been developed to ensure those schools that meet these criteria will be awarded the contracts to address WaSH services delivery challenges in their schools. Awarding of contracts for projects implementation is not the end. We will be doing monitoring and evaluation visits to projects sites to ensure contracted NGOs and firms are doing the right thing by the scope and design contained in their proposals as well as adhering to the Terms of Reference of the provided for the WaSH in Secondary Schools program.”