Caritas funds Pacific safe water programs

Safe drinking water is now a reality for villagers in rural areas of Samoa and Tonga, following the building of water storage tanks as part of a program supported by Caritas Australia.

Clean and safe water is a significant problem for many communities in the Pacific due to the lack of infrastructure such as systems to carry drinkable water.

"We are currently in discussion with other dioceses in the Pacific region to see if we can further assist with water programs," said Justine McMahon, Caritas Australia's Pacific Region Coordinator.

Caritas Australia has committed $160,000 towards the 12 month Samoa and Tonga Family Water Program, which aims to provide safe and clean drinking water to 70 families who dwell outside of urban areas. The families who were allocated the tanks have been involved in the construction by mixing cement and contributing sand.

"The contribution of the community in the program is important, as it is in line with Caritas Australia's philosophy of promoting the dignity of each person and also gave the community a sense of ownership and pride," said Ms McMahon.

The benefit of the water program is that now families who were most in need no longer have to worry about finding drinking water, especially women and children, who used to carry the water for a great distance.

"The introduction of water tanks will help with the overall health and safety of the community and reduces the vulnerability of women and children who would otherwise fetch the water by themselves," said Ms McMahon.

The fragility of the Pacific Islands' ecosystems has been a topic of concern, following the recent World Water Conference, where it was noted that the heating of the ocean's surface will cause problems with shortages in drinking water.

"Experts have warned that due to the increase in global warming, this could have implications for the freshwater tables. Because of this alternative sourcing of water will need to be looked at," said Ms McMahon.

Caritas funds water programs in the Pacific (Caritas Australia 11/8/05)

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Caritas Australia

12 Aug 2005