The Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification Bradley (MMERE) Tovosia has echoed Solomon Islands position during the recent UN “Water Action Decade” summit at the UN headquarter in New York.
Minister Tovosia said for Solomon Islands, ‘water is not only a resource but is LIFE’ and it is appropriate that the UN General Assembly elevate considerations and priority on water discussion.
“On this note, the Solomon Islands delegation whole heatedly believe that it is only appropriate and timely that the United Nation (UN) assembly not only recognize but to actively institute an envoy on water with a special task force established to address global water issues, and interact strategically with regional bodies across the globe to address pressing water issues,” Tovosia said.
Tovosia further informed that Summit, that the Solomon Islands Government remains committed to strengthened engagement in water security as a key component of Pacific resilience, and encouraged greater participation of the sector in dialogue for action supporting climate and disaster resilience at the local, national and regional levels.
His comments followed on the Government’s commitment at the sixth Pacific Water and Waste water Ministers’ Forum 2022, from 14-15 November, in Nadi, Fiji,
He said “even with challenges in terms of capacity, financial resources and competing priorities, the Solomon Islands is doing what it can to address water and sanitation issues with inclusive collaboration and partnership with the urgency to accelerate concrete actions to build a better and more resilient Solomon Islands and a better future”.
On water and climate change, Tovosia said the Solomon Islands Water Sector Adaptation Project (2014 – 2019) focused on improving the resilience of water resources to the impacts of climate change, in order to improve health, sanitation and quality of life, and sustain livelihoods in target vulnerable areas.
The impacts of climate change, particularly sea-level rise and pronounced droughts have severe consequences on water and sanitation in the country.
To address the water supply challenges in the urban areas, Tovosia noted that the Solomon Islands Government and Solomon Islands Water Authority (SIWA) are currently implementing the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project (UWSSSP) as part of the SIWA Five Year Plan and 30 Year Strategic Plan as the Road Map for the SIWA in water supply and wastewater development.
“The UWSSSP is a major investment in the quality and reliability of our water supply to five growing urban and peri-urban regions of the Solomon Islands. It also will promote effective, efficient and safe urban sanitation services, and provide programs to encourage better hygiene behaviors in urban areas and informal settlements,” Tovosia said.
The UWSSSP falls under the Greater Honiara Urban Development Strategy and Action Plan, which the national government endorsed in 2018. This plan prioritizes investments to improve quality and coverage of water supply and sanitation services for sustainable urban development.
Tovosia also informed the Summit that on groundwater development, Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, Water Resources Management Division is conducting water well borehole drillings for those requesting drilling services and conduct groundwater assessments in provincial centres and rural communities.
On water governance, provincial consultations are ongoing with few provinces left to establish a legal framework for water resources management for implementation by 2024.
This will strengthen institutional frameworks and the enabling environmental for water, sanitation and hygiene in the country. Groundwater development is a priority to improve water governance for proper administration and management of water resources.