By WATSON GABANA
According to the patriarch, Genesis 1:1 says that in the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness and the Spirit of God was moving over the water. Again as you reflect the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin, you will remember your science teacher talking about a single cell amoeba emerging from the water and that was the first creation of life.
Two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen combine together to give life to earth. This liquid without color, taste or smell is indeed the most essential element of human life but has been overlooked and given little nor no attention at all in every phase of development. As you sit back and take stock of the recipes that make up human life, you will notice that water (H2O) is inclusive in every thing we do. It is life and death!
In this article, I wish to expound on this important human need and illustrate its importance in the lives of everyone who needs it badly. You will go on to read about amazing things an organization is doing to eradicate water borne diseases by providing sustainable water and sanitation management programs in the country.
An EU grant of K12.8 million was awarded for the implementation of the first phase of RWSSP. In the first phase which began in 2006 and ended two years later, grants were given to 30 non state actors (NSA) who worked with 133 different communities, providing access to clean water and sanitation for 76,700 beneficiaries.
Harewelle International and Mott MacDonald of United Kingdom are implementing the European Union funded Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Program in the country. They are a group of committed and industrious individuals working in some of the most remote parts of this country providing technical advice and assistance in promoting access to save water supply ad sanitation facilities.
No roads means nothing. Water is a need. Walking two hours every day to fetch water for drinking, cooking and washing is a chronic hassle for many communities, especially mothers and children in this country.
"Without water, there is no life," Stuart Jordan, Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Program engineer said when discussing about the programs implemented thus far under the European Union funding.
The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (RWSSP) funded by the Government of Papua New Guinea and the European Union commenced in February 2006 under the supervision of the Department of Health.
Phase I of the Programme was completed in August, 2008. The Phase I budget included a provision of Euro 3.5 million (K12 million) for the implementation of RWSS projects over two years and eight months. Due to a satisfactory performance, Phase II started in January 2009, and will run for three years with a substantially larger budget for RWSS project implementation.
On Wednesday this week, contracts were signed to pave the way for the implementation and sanction of the second phase of the programme. The seven non-state actors involved include ADRA, Salvation Army, Baptist Union, Oxfam and CARE.
Under this programme, 35 district health officers will be trained in up-to-date hygiene and sanitation promotion methodologies. These district officers will work alongside NSA staff in promoting life-saving hygiene behavior change, preventing diarrheal diseases and epidemics such as cholera, typhoid and flu.
The expected outcome of this second phase of the programme will see water and sanitation schemes in approximately 400 rural villages, 20,000 improved toilets, 170 gravity fed systems, 1,300 water tanks (rain catchment) and 70 shallow wells and boreholes. This means 230, 000 people in rural communities are expected to benefit from the programme.
The RWSSP has been designed to optimize rapid implementation by channeling grants through NSA with existing experience and capacity for implementing integrated, community demand driven, small-scale RWSS projects.
NSAs are contracted for the implementation of RWSS projects based on the approval of proposals they submit to RWSSP. The proposals were evaluated by a committee comprising the Department of Health, The Department of National Planning and Monitoring and the Office of Rural Development. A key area of concern for RWSSP was the sustainability of the RWSS schemes constructed. This was addressed during Phase I through an appropriate community development strategy and procedures, including arrangements through which requests for RWSS schemes were driven by community demand.
This strategy is considered essential in order to avoid the mistakes of previous RWSS projects in PNG which failed to create sufficient sense of community ownership due to a top-down implementation approach of donors, government and implementing agencies. To promote community ownership and sustainability of RWSS schemes community contributions to a project, in cash and in kind is a pre-requisite.
To become implementing partners NSAs need to have existing general management capacity as well as capacity either for the complete implementation of integrated RWSS projects or else capacity in one or more of component areas (community development, capacity building, RWSS technical design/construction, training or awareness raising on cross cutting issues of HIV/AIDS and gender) gained from the other projects of a similar nature.
An NSA capacity building component was developed by RWSSP to enable an increasing number of NSAs to access and manage programme funds over the programme period and to broaden the geographical coverage of the Programme. Capacity building was, and will continue to be, directed primarily towards strengthening and supporting the NSA to implement and integrate the various component areas of RWSS projects as required by the RWSSP.
In order to improve sustainability further, and to prioritize hygiene and sanitation, capacity building of NSAs during Phase II will concentrate more upon Community Management, Community Led Total Sanitation, Participatory Hygiene & Sanitation Transformation and Participatory Water Supply & Use Decision Making. This is expected to produce higher sustainable outputs, and results which may be considered international standard of working best-practice.
Under Phase II the networking of communities, NSAs and local level government will receive increased attention. By bringing together the stakeholders involved it is hoped that the projects and the capacity of the NSAs will be enhanced so that on the completion of the programme there will remain well maintained schemes and the skills to further meet the needs for clean water and improved access to sanitation. In addition the creation of working partnerships between stakeholders should result in longer term development benefits in the area.
Globally, 1.1 billion people lack safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people are without sanitation. The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) indicates halving this proportion by 2015.
So far, a lot is desired for Papua New Guineans to take ownership of these initiatives and embrace the programs in our villages.
"Mothers can make more gardens if the time spent in fetching clean water is minimized," Stuart said.
If Eda Ranu and Water board concentrate in providing clean and safe water to the 16 percent of the urban dwellers, the other 84 percent in the rural areas need help from somewhere else. The European Union funded RWSSP seems the way for now.
Note: In the next issue, I wish to discuss with you impact projects implemented in some of our rural areas. We'll keep in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org