The tanks were delivered under a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) project initiated by the Rurei women’s group and supported by the Australian government under the Bougainville Partnership Program.
The water tanks are attached to houses in the village, providing around 450 people with clean water.
Easily accessible water reduces the burden of water collection. In many places – Rurei included – this is a task undertaken by women and girls, taking time away from education, employment and community activities.
Local leader Helen Kenjue, a retired teacher and project coordinator, said the project has had a positive impact on people in Rurei.
“I am happy to see everyone, especially women and girls, having easy access to clean water,” Kenjue said.
“We’re achieving the sixth Sustainable Developmental Goal and that is to ensure everyone has access to water and sanitation.”
Prior to the arrival of the water tanks, local people would walk down to the beach on low tides to collect spring water and on high tides would travel inland to fetch river water.
Each household spent up to an hour each day fetching and carting water from sources that were often not clean and potential hotspots for waterborne diseases.
Australian High Commission representative, Winifred Oraka, said access to water is a human right and vital for health and wellbeing.
“Australia is proud to support projects which are community led and make positive, sustainable impacts on the lives of Bougainvilleans,” she stated.
“All people deserve access to clean water, which reduces the risk of illness and the spread of disease. This is always important, but particularly now as we learn how to manage life with COVID-19.”
The WaSH project also saw Rurei leaders supported to undertake health and hygiene training, learning protective practices and safety measures to be shared with the community.
The project was launched in November at the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Department of Community Development. Present at the launch was Karaho Siwa from the ABG’s Department for Community Development.