Rural communities on Kolombangara Island in the Western Province have all the reasons to celebrate as they welcomed the handover of their new water supply and sanitation projects along with a community hall on 14 August 2023.
These projects were aimed at providing communities with first clean running water to improve health standards across the communities and a proper home for community gatherings.
Solomon Islands Government (SIG) in partnership with the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) funded the projects under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) programme managed by the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD).
Worth more than SBD$1 million dollars in CDF, the projects were successfully facilitated by Gizo-Kolombangara Constituency (GKC) office under the candid leadership of Honourable Lanelle Tanangada, MP.
The event was dubbed historic with close to a thousand of people from surrounding communities on Kolombangara convened at Kuzi to witness the occasion.
The event was graced by Member of Parliament for GKC Hon. Tanangada, PRC Counsellor Her Excellency Gong Rui, Director Governance MRD Hickson George, Policy Secretary – Resources Sector in the Prime Minister’s Office & Cabinet (OPMC) Jimson Tanangada, government reps from both national and provincial and Western Provincial Member for South Kolombangara ward, Isaac Jenty.
Direct beneficiaries are Kuzi to Sarughobe communities with catchment areas include Tutusu, Kalibae, Korare, Tila Ridge and Leleana, a host to a locally owned resort on Kolombangara Island. Total population of over 1300 is benefiting from these projects.
The projects which are the first of its kind in the area will have a positive impact on the lives of individuals, families, schools, churches, including vulnerable groups such as women, children and persons with special needs.
Indeed, it was a landmark triumph and the first to have happened in the constituency not because of the immense delivery but because it was an accomplishment for the constituency.
Speaking on behalf of MRD, Director Governance, Hickson George said access to clean and safe water is not just a luxury but a fundamental human right that is essential for the health and well-being of our communities (UN Declaration 2010).
He said it is the commitment of the national government through MRD to continue supporting development initiatives in our rural areas towards improving social and economic livelihood of everyone. So, having an access to reliable clean and safe water for drinking, cooking and sanitation is paramount.
“I believe such meaningful projects like this will undoubtedly transform your lives.
“Also, accessing proper sanitation facilities will help keep the environment clean and safe for the people as well as promote healthy living and livelihoods for everyone,” Mr Hickson emphasized.
He also recognizes the importance of collaboration and partnership between the government/MRD, development partners, and communities to the project’s success.
Delighted PRC Counsellor Gong Rui in her keynote address assured the gathering at Kuzi village that PRC will continue to support rural development initiatives in the rural communities throughout the 50 constituencies.
She said the handover is a true testament of the firm partnership that PRC and Solomon Islands continue to enjoy.
Meanwhile, Hon. Tanangada said that the handover of this water supply project is an evidence of true partnership and cooperation between the government, PRC and the rural communities.
She said that prioritising what is important for the communities and its population is paramount.
“A community with a good plan and vision to prioritise what is important is a community that can measure progress in development,” Hon Tanangada said.
She further thanked the three communities for their hard work and working together with their community leaders towards the success of the project.
“The sacrifices and commitments shown during the course of the project, I believe will be the driving force for you to look after and care for these community water supplies,” she added.
Hon. Tananganda also acknowledged the PRC Embassy and its government for their generous support in terms of additional funding to complete the water supply project.
“Our mothers, children and old people will now have access to clean fresh water close to their homes unlike in the past they had to travel few distances to fetch clean drinking water,” Hon Tanangada said.
Project Coordinator Hendrick Kabolo previously said community support towards the project was exceptional. Communities provide additional support in terms of labour, gravel and sawn timbers.
“This project is a great relief to our communities. For decades our villagers have to walk and paddle distances to collect fresh water for consumption. Women and our children risked their lives in rough seas and even rain when going out to fetch water from distance water sources.
“We use wells but they are not safe. Some of our water sources that we use to gather water from are also infiltrated by sea due to climate change effect. But thanks to our MP for addressing one of our community needs which is to guarantee we have access to safe and clean drinking water at our doorstep,” Mr Kabolo said.
Mr Kabolo added that now that water has reached the communities, families can now slowly go into construction of proper sanitation.
Director Governance Hickson then urged communities to take ownership of the projects.
“These facilities are a testament to our collective efforts and the commitment of the GKC Office to progress community development in your communities.
“By taking good care of these public assets, we not only honour the investment made by taxpayers and the governments of both the Solomon Islands and the People’s Republic of China but also secure the health and prosperity of our communities,” he added.
He said he is happy to see Gizo/Kolombanagra utilized its CDF allocation to such livelihood projects.
“We all know that water is a necessity for life. Access to clean and safe water is one of the sustainable development goals that Government through MRD is committed to achieving for our rural people,” he emphasized.
He said MRD is looking forward to working closely with GKC to make sure meaningful projects are delivered in the constituency to improve rural people’s livelihood.
The water supply project involved the construction of a 40,000-litre reservoir tank, 53 standpipes in the communities and piping system by a hired private local engineering company with the support of local communities.
This is the 5th water supply project funded by Gizo-Kolombangara constituency CDF allocation under the leadership of MP Tanangada who is also the Minister for the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD).
The other four projects already completed and in use include: Sausepe water project, Jack Harbour water project, Titiana water project and Nusa Baruku water project. All projects are fully funded by CDF.
CDF is a programme of the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) and is implemented by the 50 constituencies in the country through the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) purposely to improve the social and economic livelihoods of all Solomon Islanders.
– MRD Press