Excerpt from IPS News
Rural communities on one of the nine islands that make up the Polynesian nation of Tuvalu are anticipating how life will change when they are connected to piped clean water for the first time. Despite being surrounded by millions of square kilometres of ocean, just over half of the 12 million people who live in the Pacific Islands region have access to clean water, the lowest of any region in the world. In remote island communities in Tuvalu, and across the region, the deficit of clean water is a major obstacle to disease prevention, lifelong health and development progress.
Pisi Seleganiu, whose family live in villages on Vaitupu Island, which is located about 120 kilometres northwest of Tuvalu’s main Funafuti Atoll, told IPS: “It very much affects their daily lives. The only source is rainwater; the issue is when it becomes dry there is no supplementary water supply. People use a lot of fuel to drive to the far end of the island to get water and bring it back to the villages.” This month work will begin on building the network of tanks and pipes which will eventually convey groundwater from wells in the north of Vaitupu Island to the 1,500 people who live in the villages of Tumaseu and Asau in the south. It’s the culmination of years of consultation between the island’s customary leaders and the regional development organisation, Pacific Community, which is headquartered in New Caledonia, about traditional knowledge of water resources.