Australians are generous. In the last financial year we pledged $359 million to our regional neighbours especially in response to major humanitarian crises.
However one area of need is the ‘silent killer’ of dirty or inadequate water in rural communities in the Pacific. Over 600 million people globally do not have access to clean water and in the Pacific the threat of waterborne disease can endanger lives.
Peter bathes with water from a well about a kilometre away from his boarding school on Malaita Island, in the Solomon Islands. Photo: Cassandra Hill
Malaria, Typhoid and Hepatitis A are carried by unclean water in the Solomon Islands, and for young men like Peter, whose challenges are compounded by his physical disability, sickness and skin rashes are often the result.
Peter’s father arranged for Peter to stay with his aunt, then attend Aligegeo Secondary School where water was in short supply.
‘If you wanted to bathe in our community in Lau, you could do it whenever you wanted but at the school, you can only do it in the afternoon for one hour,’ says Peter. Caritas Australia, part of the Caritas International network, one of the largest humanitarian networks in the world, is working with its partners Caritas Solomon Islands (CASI) and the Solomon Islands Government Rural Water Sanitation and Hygiene division (RWASH), to tackle the problem of water access.
CASI provided a 90 kilo-litre water tank, electric pump and technical advice, while the Malaita Provincial Government contributed labour and staff. The school now has a safe, reliable water system that has the capacity to service around 1,000 people.
‘I used to have to walk one kilometre every day to source water from the Bishop’s well,’ says Peter. ‘Now we can stay at school to wash and not interrupt our official class time, it makes our life much easier.’
Your support of Caritas Australia’s annual Lenten fundraising campaign
, Project Compassion, is creating reliable infrastructure access for water and other essential services.