People in Vanuatu without access to clean and safe drinking water will be supported by a new project led by the Department of Geology, Mines and Water Resources after the official handover of a new Vt50 million (USD 468,050) drill rig, yesterday.

The drill rig will be used by the Department to provide ground water bore holes in selected priority areas without access to clean and safe water supply.

This will be led by the Vanuatu Government and will include access to remote areas such as Ambae where drilling is expected to begin in late April once the team is trained on the new equipment.

The National Disaster Management Office and the National Advisory Board of Vanuatu have both been instrumental in prioritising this critical need and supported the delivery of the work through the European Union funded Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific Project, which is implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC).

The funding is in partnership with KfW on behalf of the German Government as part of the longer term recovery efforts from Cyclone Pam that devastated the country in early 2015.

This work is even more critical given the recent El Niño weather conditions causing significant dry weather across the country but the impact this work will have to ensure communities have access to safe drinking water both on a consistent basis and immediately after disasters such as Cyclone Pam ensures long-term sustainable development for communities across the country.

Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Ralph Regenvanu, said “access to water is a basic human right and one that we want to ensure every Ni-Vanuatu has access to.

“We face great challenges with access to the right equipment needed and geographical challenges but we also face the risk of hazards like cyclones so it is an exceptional partnership that will help ensure these communities have access to a sustainable source of water into the future.”

Pacific Community (SPC) Melanesia Director, Mia Rimon, said she is enthusiastic such a strong partnership has been created to ensure long-term and sustainable work that will genuinely help people get access to safe and clean drinking water across the country.

“This work is being led by the Vanuatu Government and we are providing them with scientific and technical support to ensure water scarce communities across the country can benefit from this new equipment.

“This is a priority of SPC to ensure we are best supporting member countries in disaster risk management and reducing the impact of future disasters.

“The government of Vanuatu should be very proud of this exemplary work,” she said.

European Union Ambassador for Vanuatu Leonidas Tezapsidis said work like this, driven by national governments and supported by technical experts across the region, is work all partners should be proud of.

“The European Union is committed to supporting the reduction of disaster impact on communities.

“This work will help the people of Vanuatu access water in future disaster situations. It will also ensure that communities access their groundwater for the first time,” he said.

The drill rig was officially handed over to the Vanuatu Government yesterday at 10.30am in the Mines and Minerals car park.

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