UNDP Solomon Islands Country Manager, Azusa Kubota, hands over the water testing equipment to MECDM Undersecretary, Chanel Iroi, at the UN Joint Presence Office in Honiara. (Photo: UNDP/Merinda Valley)

Honiara, Solomon Islands –
The National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) and other government institutions will be able to improve country-based water quality monitoring with the handover of testing equipment today at the United Nations Joint Presence Office in Honiara.

The equipment, procured by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Managing Risks Associated with Gold Ridge Mine Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) project implemented in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government, will help national institutions effectively monitor the quality of water in the tailings dam and the downstream river.

The lack of in-country facilities to conduct water testing in a timely manner has been a challenge for national institutions. The new equipment will allow data collection on water quality indicators including temperature, level of dissolved oxygen, turbidity, arsenic and cyanide. The equipment will also enable analysis of the data collected.

Receiving the equipment on behalf of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM); the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE); and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), MECDM Undersecretary Chanel Iroi said the equipment was needed but cost-prohibitive for the government.

“It will help our three ministries in terms of their technical work and monitoring,” he said.

Chief Environment Officer in the MECDM Environment and Conservation Division Edward Danitofea inspects a water testing tool during the handover ceremony at the UN Joint Presence Office in Honiara. (Photo: UNDP/Merinda Valley)
Government and UNDP staff unpack water testing equipment during the handover ceremony at the UN Joint Presence Office in Honiara. (Photo: UNDP/Merinda Valley)

“The information we gather with the equipment will help us in terms of providing information to the government but also to the surrounding communities in terms of preparedness response. It is not only for technical assessments but also for finding the necessary information in terms of during bad weather.”

The equipment handover reaffirms the Australian-Government funded TSF project’s commitment to developing the capacity of relevant Solomon Islands Government institutions to monitor the tailings dam, downstream areas and other sites in an independent, timely and sustainable manner.

The Environment and Conservation Division of the MECDM and the MMERE will use the equipment for monitoring arsenic, cyanide and other substances in the TSF water and in the downstream river.

The NPHL under the MHMS will use the equipment for more in-depth water quality analysis of the TSF and the surrounding areas.

The equipment is also expected to contribute to independent and sustainable monitoring and more effective emergency response through information sharing on water quality with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).

“We hope that the equipment directly responds to the needs and requests of the government by allowing them to do required testing on site,” said UNDP Solomon Islands Country Manager Azusa Kubota.

“It will greatly enhance effectiveness of the government’s ability to respond to situations as and when they rise.”

In addition to providing the testing equipment, the TSF project partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to provide the government ministries with technical support, water quality standards and other assistance to improve water quality testing in Solomon Islands.

Contact information

For media queries, please contact Ms. Merinda Valley, Communications Specialist; email: merinda.valley@undp.org; tel: (677) 27446 ext. 5527

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