Improving climate change adaptation capacities in Santa CatalinaMay 25, 2016
Many of us have never considered what it would be like to live without easy access to water. We take for granted that when we turn on our taps in our kitchens and bathrooms, clean water will for certain pour forth into our cups, drink bottles, tubs and sinks. But for communities living with limited natural water resources and the impacts of climate change influences, accessible and abundant clean water is a dream.
In Solomon Islands, the National Government is implementing a climate change adaptation initiative called the Solomon Islands Water Sector Adaptation Project (SIWSAP) in partnership with UNDP and with financial support from Global Environment Facility’s Least Developed Countries Fund. SIWSAP is working with three provincial townships and three rural communities to improve their resilience to climate change impacts on their water assets and livelihoods. These townships and communities live with very challenging water conditions.
Since January this year, the Project, has been rolling out a key activity under its mandate for its pilot sites. The quick fix interventions, as it is being dubbed, is a short term measure that ensures communities in Ferafalu, Santa Catalina and Tuwo and the townships of Taro, Gizo and Tiggoa have access to facilities that provide improved water storage for domestic use, particularly drinking and cooking purposes.
Santa Catalina’s quick fix intervention has been completed ahead of SIWSAP’s other project sites. Located off the eastern end of mainland Makira and next to Santa Ana, the island, also called Aurigi, is a raised coral reef about 2.5 kilometres long and two kilometres wide. The island is framed by stretches of creamy white beaches and clear, distilled blue seas.
With over two hundred households, the Santa Catalina community relies heavily on ground water wells and on rain water for their daily survival. The island is very remote and the people live a subsistence and self-reliant lifestyle as services are limited and there are few economic opportunities.
Materials to construct communal rain water harvesting systems in Santa Catalina landed on the island in December last year.
With strong community support and assistance, thirteen 5000 litre Rotomould water tanks were installed within two months. This is an additional storage of 65,000 litres of water for the 1,360 strong community. This also means safe and clean water is now available over longer periods more than before in the community.
The simple rain water harvesting design consists of a shed-like roof over the water tank mounted on a cement slab. The roof consists of three standard length panels of iron roofing and holds a gutter system at the lower end of the roof. Galvanized steel posts and solid foundations were installed to protect against strong winds and cyclones.
The Way Forward - Balancing the Hardware with Software
The aim of SIWSAP is to work with communities to improve ownership over assets and implement sustainable management and financial systems. Only 13% of all water systems in the Solomon Islands have any form of management system – resulting in broken infrastructure and failed systems. This year, SIWSAP Project Officers are documenting existing water management protocols in their respective site communities, workshopping additional protocols and getting their input on how they want these measures to be actioned. In Santa Catalina the documentation has already started and other project sites are following suit.
And this is just the beginning. Onwards and upwards with our communities SIWSAP!