WASHINGTON, May 16, 2019—Thousands of communities across the Solomon Islands will benefit from improved access to quality water and sanitation services, following approval of a grant for US$15 million (SBD$122 million) by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, as part of a joint project with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
“Access to a continuous, quality and resilient water supply is vital for the health, safety and prosperity of Solomon Islanders,” said Hon. Harry Kuma, Minister for Finance and Treasury, Solomon Islands. “Guided by our National Water and Sanitation Sector Plan, we look forward to working with the World Bank and multilateral partners to expand our water supply and treatment, improve sewerage and sanitation services and ensure Solomon Islanders have greater awareness and education around water issues.”
The Solomon Islands Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project will support Solomon Water to rehabilitate and expand water production and treatment systems across Honiara, Auki, Gizo, Noro and Tulagi; develop a new water supply system in Munda; and connect an additional 40,000 of Honiara’s most in-need people to a more efficient water supply network.
Additionally, the project will improve the quality and efficiency of sewerage and sanitation services, with the construction of a new septage treatment facility and upgrade of sewerage systems in Honiara, reducing public and environmental health risks from untreated sewerage and building climate and flood resilience. The project will also support community education and awareness of water conservation, sanitation and hygiene across the country’s main urban areas.
“We are delighted to share our global experience of water infrastructure investment, working closely with Solomon Water and ADB on this vital initiative,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank’s Country Director for the Pacific Islands. “This project will not only improve water supply and sanitation services, it will also strengthen Solomon Islands’ resilience to climate change, supporting the introduction of best practice technology adopted by advanced water utilities around the world.”
Only 76 percent of urban households and 18 percent of rural households in Solomon Islands have access to basic sanitation, and sewerage is currently discharged through ocean and river outfalls, causing heavy coastal pollution. More than half the population is connected to reticulated water supply, with frequent water outages during power failure and water bores vulnerable to contamination from human and solid waste, particularly in communities without formal drainage and septic systems. The impact of poor water and sanitation services falls disproportionately on women, who bear responsibility for cleaning, cooking, washing, caring for children and the sick.
The project is co-financed by the World Bank, through the International Development Association (IDA) the World Bank’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Union through the Investment Facility for the Pacific (IFP) and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Finance and Treasury. The grant will be implemented by Solomon Water.