WHP pioneers water security project

Australia and the Western Highlands Provincial Government are spearheading a Water Security Project to bolster clean water access in vital rural markets across Papua New Guinea (PNG).

This initiative, part of the PNG-Australia Partnership, marks the inaugural phase of a three-province endeavour set to unfold from 2023 to 2025.

The Western Highlands emerges as the pioneer province in this transformative Water Security Project, with East Sepik and Morobe provinces following suit. Addressing a critical need for reliable and safe clean water access, the project aligns with PNG's development goals and stands as a cornerstone in Australia's climate change policy.

A primary objective of the Water Security Project is to fortify provincial governance systems and institutional capabilities. This strategic focus aims to enhance essential service delivery, particularly in the realm of water services. Emphasizing inclusivity, the project integrates the voices of local stakeholders, ensuring its resilience and success in the long term.

Zooming in on the Western Highlands, the project takes a targeted approach by prioritizing markets—vital hubs in PNG's informal economy. Recognizing these markets as crucial community centres, the initiative seeks to empower women, men, and youth by improving their livelihoods and contributing to regional prosperity.

The selection of markets underwent meticulous consideration by a technical working group led by the Western Highlands Provincial Administration. This group, comprising representatives from diverse sectors, including civil society, is instrumental in establishing governance mechanisms. Local stakeholders, forming a committee, will provide project oversight, leadership, and decision-making.

Demonstrating unwavering commitment, the Western Highlands Provincial Government is co-investing K1 million in the project. Governor Wai Rapa, MP, formalized this commitment on December 6, 2023, presenting a cheque to Australia High Commission Minister Counsellor Penny Morton.

This collaborative funding, combined with Australia's contributions, will finance the construction of water facilities in selected market locations.

The project's impact extends to equipping markets with rainwater tanks and collection facilities, ensuring a safe and reliable water supply for market vendors, users, and nearby communities. With an overall investment of up to K15 million from Australia over the 2023-2025 period, the Water Security Project signifies a shared commitment to strengthening capacity and service delivery at the subnational level.

As the flagship province to embark on this transformative journey, the Western Highlands Provincial Government has set a precedent by handing over its financial co-contribution, marking a milestone in cross-border collaboration for sustainable water solutions.