PNG faces high water vulnerabilities – World Water Day 2021

19 March 2021
A young girl pumps water from an underground water source at Dugumor Village, Bogia District, Madang Province.

PORT MORESBY, 19 MARCH 2021 – Papua New Guinea is one of 37 hotspot countries in the world that faces extremely high water vulnerabilities, according to a new analysis released by UNICEF globally ahead of World Water Day on 22 March.

The analysis, which is part of UNICEF’s Water Security for All initiative identifies areas where physical water scarcity risks overlap with poor water service levels. Communities living in these areas depend on surface water, unimproved sources, or where it can take more than 30 minutes to collect water.

PNG’s estimated 8.5 million people are among those with the least access to safe water supply in the world. According to a 2017 Joint Monitoring Program global baseline report, only 37% of the population has access to basic water supply and 19% to basic sanitation. Furthermore, only 13% of the rural population has access to basic sanitation compared to 57% of the urban population.

“Waterborne diseases are rampant in Papua New Guinea because the majority of the country’s rural population is drinking unsafe water from sources like surface running water and piped and well water that are exposed to contaminants,” UNICEF Representative, Dr. Claudes Kamenga said today.

“Access to safe water must be a national concern because the outcomes of unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene that manifest in child illnesses and deaths have many other serious consequences connected to nutrition, health, education, poverty and economic growth and development,” Kamenga emphasized.

One in five children globally do not have enough water to meet their everyday needs, says UNICEF’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, and adds that a projection made by a 2017 UNICEF report indicates that almost 1 in 4 children globally will live in areas of extremely high water stress by 2040. Children and families in vulnerable communities will be hit the hardest in this world water crisis.

In Papua New Guinea, development partners are supporting the Government efforts to address the water crisis. One such effort is a four-year WASH project, also called the Klinpela Komuniti Projek facilitated by UNICEF through funding support provided by the European Union is positively impacting on the productivity, health and well-being of up to 160,000 people including 40,000 children in 200 schools, 36 health centres and 800 communities in four districts.

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Noreen Chambers
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