Access to Clean Water for Indigenous Village Kwamalasamutu

16 February 2024
 PS of Ministry of Regional Development, PS Ministry of Natural Resources, Districtsadministrator, Districtcommissioner Sipaliwini, UNICEF Representative, Basja (village head) of Kwamalasamutu, Ambassador of the Netherlands, UNICEF Suriname Program Manager, Watertechnician Ministry of Natural Resources, UNICEF WASH and Climate Specialist.
UNICEFGuyanaSuriname/MNeede
Left to Right: PS of Ministry of Regional Development, PS Ministry of Natural Resources, Districtsadministrator, Districtcommissioner Sipaliwini, UNICEF Representative, Basja (village head) of Kwamalasamutu, Ambassador of the Netherlands, UNICEF Suriname Program Manager, Watertechnician Ministry of Natural Resources, UNICEF WASH and Climate Specialist.

Paramaribo, 15 February 2024 – The Ministry of Natural Resources in partnership with UNICEF Suriname, inaugurated the rehabilitated water supply system in Kwamalasamutu providing clean water to 1300 community members and more than 150 children. A delegation consisting of the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Regional Development, The Districtcommissioner of Sipaliwini, the Dutch Ambassador, the UNICEF Representative for Guyana and Suriname and their teams had an orientation mission to the indigenous village on this occasion.

Among other issues such as limited access to social services, Kwamalasamutu faced significant challenges for several years with accessibility to clean and safe drinking water. The existing water installation system in the Indigenous village of Kwamalasamutu was in a bad state, poorly maintained, and the old construction posed safety risks, especially to children. The lack of reliable access to clean water affects the health, hygiene, and overall well-being of the community members, particularly the estimated 500 children living in the area. Access to potable water is also crucial for the functioning of local schools and health clinics which were deprived from having good access to water.

UNICEF Representative hands-over customary Token to Basja (village head) of Kwamalasamutu in witness of the Districtcommissioner of Sipaliwini
UNICEFGuyanaSuriname/MNeede/UN2024
UNICEF Representative hands-over customary Token to Basja (village head) of Kwamalasamutu in witness of the Districtcommissioner of Sipaliwini

The extreme drought during the last quarter of last year has further impacted access to clean water in the village affecting children’s health and overall wellbeing.

Since Kwamalasamutu is one of the largest (Indigenous) villages in the South of Suriname, with a locally based school and health center, which are all connected to the water system, renovation, and expansion of the water (distribution) network would enable the connection of the water system to the surrounding communities such as Korenti, Wajapan and Ullutupe as well.

Clean water is a basic and crucial right for every person, especially children. Sadly, in the interior of Suriname, good hygiene, sanitation, and access to clean water is not self-evident. Yet this is essential to provide clean drinking water and adopt safe hygiene practices such as handwashing, to prevent the spread of diseases and bacteria.

Blocks
20 water harvesting tanks supported by UNICEF as part of the water installation
UNICEFGuyanaSuriname/MNeede
20 water harvesting tanks supported by UNICEF as part of the water installation

At the national level 98% of the population has access to basic drinking water. However, the interior area, specifically Sipaliwini, has the lowest access (85%) and (8%) have no service at all. When looking at safely managed water services, less than half of the population (48%) in Suriname have access to improved sources which are accessible on premises, available when needed, and free from contamination. While the open defecation rates nationally are low (2%) there are big differences per region, with the rural interior having rates as high as 22%.

"Access to clean water is a basic right for a child to grow up healthy, free from disease and have the best start in life. For UNICEF, the rehabilitation of the drinking water supply system in Kwamalasamutu was of paramount importance because it gives access to clean water to 3 other surrounding villages including, handwashing and sanitation services in schools and the health clinics”, says Nicolas Pron, UNICEF Representative for Suriname and Guyana.

"This partnership is a good example of the collaboration between the Surinamese Government and the technical and financial partners such as UNICEF, aiming at the development of the country and particularly the interior and marginalized and vulnerable communities," says the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources. “Besides access to clean water, community members will also benefit from improved hygiene and sanitation in local health facilities and schools, it will also empower local authorities and communities to manage and maintain the water systems effectively,” the Permanent Secretary emphasizes.

Within the Leave No One Behind Program, UNICEF specifically focused on improvement of WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) in the interior. In the past years, UNICEF also supported the Upper Marowijne region through procurement and installation of 208 water harvesting tanks in 8 villages benefiting 3000 community members and 4 schools. In the coming period, the support will focus on the villages of Pelulu Tepu and Curuni for the provision of water. Currently UNICEF is also supporting WASH upgrades in selected schools in Brokopondo.

Media contacts

Mahogany Neede
Communications Officer
Unicef Guyana and Suriname
Tel: +5977101017

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