USAID awards SBD 7 million WASH practices in Solomon Islands and Kiribati
The United States Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Pacific American Fund launched an $850,000 USD (7 Million SBD) grant award to Action on Poverty (AoP) and the Solomon Islands Development Trust yesterday in Honiara.
This new award will go towards supporting 17 selected communities in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, to adopt more inclusive WASH practices, reduce open defecation, and bolster resilience in the respective countries.
Speaking at the launch, Charge d’Affaires of the U.S Embassy Solomon Islands Mr. Russell Comeau said the project will enhance community awareness on health and safety challenges.
“One refrain I’ve heard many times in the Solomon Islands is the importance of developing locally driven and owned solutions to local problems. This project will enhance the capacity of targeted community response to critical health and safety challenges in culturally appropriate and contextually aware approaches and strategies.
Action on Poverty and the Solomon Islands Development Trust will work with local communities to improve WASH behaviors, increase understanding of the importance of good hand washing, reduce open defecation, and promote the capacity of individuals to respond to crises.”
Mr. Comeau adds, the project recognizes the inclusion of women engagement in WASH planning.
“Women and girls, who are too often left out of WASH planning, will be intentionally integrated into community engagement efforts and benefit from enhanced education and socialization around menstrual hygiene management.
We are in the middle of the 16 days of activism, a period of time when we come together globally to highlight the importance of eliminating gender-based violence. Sadly, around the world it is known that women are at particular risk of sexual and physical violence while they are taking care of their families or themselves – while simply collecting water or seeking privacy to follow the “short road” to find a toilet space late at night or early in the morning.
This activity – which seeks to improve access to water and safe, clean sanitation – is just one of the many ways USAID is supporting programs that combat gender-based violence.”
The delivery of the grant will also enable local partner, Solomon Islands Development Trust (SIDT) to enhance WASH delivery services by promoting inclusive, contextually appropriate WASH systems designed to ensure marginalized communities and individuals will be able to access and provide safe water.
SIDT Executive Director Mr. Longden Manedika said they will be working with seven communities in Guadalcanal Province to demonstrate the WASH initiative in its current design.
“We are going to use some participatory learning tools that have been developed over the years and merged into the local context.
For the sake of the sustainability and ownership of the project, we will try as much as possible to inform other national WASH players to take ownership, merge into the government streams and that is where we believe the sustainability of the project will continue to advance,” he said.
Mr. Comeau also assures that the U.S. Government is committed to working with the Government, implementing partners, and the people of the Solomon Islands to build a prosperous future for Solomon Islands and the Pacific Islands region.
By Eliza Kukutu