Dr Krishna Kotra, Science Programme Coordinator, Dr Lokesh Padhye, the University of Auckland and Mr Ruben Markward, Group Manager, USP Emalus Campus with the Emalus team.

Have you ever stopped for a minute and think about the quality of water you drink every day?

A team of scientists from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, will be working closely with The University of the South Pacific (USP), experts and other key stakeholders in Oceania Region to identify the most critical water security, equity, and sustainability issues facing New Zealand and the rest of Oceania, as well as develop solutions to tackle the challenges.

The research work into water quality and sustainability in Oceania was the topic of a presentation by Dr Lokesh Padhye, Senior Lecturer in Engineering of the University of Auckland, hosted by the USP’s Emalus Campus in Port Vila, Vanuatu, on June 14.

The Oceania Water Research (OWRC) was established by the Auckland University and Dr Padhye said that its intention is to “create a network of researchers in Oceanic to carry out this project”.

He stated, “It is to find out how to make Oceania more resilient to ever increasing water stress issues related to climate change and limited water resources due to increasing population and rapid urbanization.”

Almost total reliance on rain-fed water across South Pacific puts economies and livelihoods at risk in this region due to climate change, increasing population, and more urbanization. Nearly 10% of deaths of children under five in the region are attributable to water related causes; 90% of these deaths can be traced to poor sanitation treatment systems.

Dr Lokesh Padhye confirmed, “There is a need to establish a network of experts, policy makers, and key stakeholders around these issues to find solutions to these complex challenges over the long term. This is what the proposed consortium is set out to achieve.

“A project team based at the University of Auckland, with the help of collaborators, is engaged with some of the key personnel in New Zealand and South Pacific, to initiate this process.

“The network includes a number of academics partners in the South Pacific and majority of the research and projects will be undertaken in these countries with the help from University of Auckland and potential academic and industry partners in New Zealand.

“If necessary, initial research training for these researchers will be undertaken in New Zealand to advance their research capacity. The network will have a formal process established to have Pacific researchers visit research laboratories in New Zealand for research training.”

Dr Krishna Kotra, Science Programme Coordinator at Emalus Campus stressed the need for more qualitative and quantitative research to be carried out in the Pacific in regards to use and storage of water. He further claimed that, new technological support is the need of the hour in the region for bearing the impacts of climate change.

Mr Ruben Bakeo Markward, Group Manager, Emalus Campus welcomed Dr Lokesh and was thankful for choosing the campus for collaborative research. He stressed that the campus would always be supportive to these kinds of research oriented initiatives. Emalus Campus Staff, Public, NGOs and students attended the presentation.

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