Water, sanitation and health working trains community facilitators in Nauru

The Pacific nation of Nauru is challenged by both climate variability and climate change. Risks include varied rainfall patterns and prolonged droughts of up to three years.

Nauru relies on desalinated water, rainwater harvesting, and poor quality groundwater for its water needs. There is no piped water system and desalinated water is trucked to households on request. During drought, these limited and fragile water sources are placed under severe stress as demand for water increases.

“Water security tends to be the main issue on the island and it relates to climate change,” a community leader from Anetan District, Haseldon Buraman, said. “Nauru has a big problem when we face drought; we don’t have any natural water source besides the water lines. The problem with the water lines is that they are polluted and have high salinity levels,” he said.

The European Union (EU) and the Pacific Community (SPC) have been working with Nauru to build the country’s resilience to the negative impacts of climate change. The Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States (GCCA: PSIS) project focuses on improving household rainwater harvesting systems and national desalinated water storage systems. It has been implemented by SPC together with the Nauru Department of Commerce, Industry and Environment and the Nauru Utilities Corporation.

Nauru identified water security as a priority for disaster risk and climate change adaptation efforts in 2012. Through the project, SPC assisted Nauru to prepare their Framework for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in 2013-14.

The project is working to improve individual rainwater harvesting systems, including funding a roof assessment technical survey of 1077 households in 2013. “The survey identified the households with damaged roofing and guttering downpipes,” the Project Coordinator in Nauru, Claudette Wharton, said.

In 2014, a study looked at options for increasing Nauru’s national water storage capacity. As a result, the project supported Nauru to demolish a decommissioned national water storage tank.

Building community capacity in water conservation and climate change awareness is important. In 2015, the project held a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Training of Trainers workshop with people from government and private sectors and youth groups. Participants can now hold WASH training, water safety and conservation exercises in their communities.

An exchange with the Kiribati GCCA: PSIS project saw Jaden Agir, Nauru’s Water Strategy Manager, Department of Commerce, Industry and Environment, visit the Environmental Health Unit of Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services in 2015. He observed testing of public utility, rainwater and well water around South Tarawa, analysed samples at the Public Health Laboratory and learnt about Kiribati’s results database.

We have also supported the Nauru Water and Sanitation Master Plan for 2015-2035, which looks at current and future water supply and sewerage infrastructure needs. The plan meets a key goal under the Nauru National Sustainable Development Strategy to “Provide a reliable, safe, affordable, secure and sustainable water supply to meet socio-economic development needs”.

Highlights:

  • Nauru has no piped water system and households must request deliveries of desalinated water
  • An EU-SPC project with the Nauru Government focuses on improving water quality and availability at both community and national levels
  • The project supported the Nauru Water and Sanitation Master Plan for 2015-2035, which looks at current and future water supply and sewerage infrastructure needs.

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