Bialla, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, March 20, 2018 – For most families in the remote district of Bialla, in Papua New Guinea (PNG)’s West New Britain Province, where the dry season can last for many months, the humble plastic container can be a lifeline.
In this small town, owning a good number of plastic containers is essential for families living far from a water source because they are durable and importantly, relatively lightweight for carrying.
Bialla is a small district, 21 kilometers (13 miles) north of the provincial capital of Kimbe, in PNG’s north-east. It is home to around 13,000 people and, like most remote towns in PNG, the people of Bialla struggle for access to many basic necessities of life; particularly access to clean drinking water and proper toilets.
The strain on health care
The lack of access to clean water is a constant challenge for the delivery of essential services to the people of Bialla.
“Our biggest problem, aside from shortages of medical supplies, is not having access to clean running water and proper toilets here at the center,” said Sister Mangaea from the Bialla Health Center, which serves the entire population of the district. “Sometimes when there’s no water at the center, we tell pregnant mothers to bring their own water for use during delivery.”
While an underground water bore was built for the health center in 2015, it only supplies clean water to two outdoor tanks, which all staff and patients rely on.
The lack of proper toilets at the health center is also a major issue. There are just two pit toilets to serve staff and patients including children at the center each day. Both are more than 20 meters (65 feet) walk away; an enormous challenge for those with an illness or disability.
“Women struggle the most from the lack of adequate sanitation,” explained Sister Mangaea. “They wait hours for nightfall; just to have privacy to use the toilet. This impacts their health and puts their safety at risk.”