While Papua New Guinea (PNG) has made progress in improving access to clean water and sanitation facilities, there is still much work to be done. PNG’s estimated 8.5 million people are amongst those with the least access to safe water supply in the world. The Government’s WASH Policy 2015 - 2030 indicates that 89 per cent of people in urban areas and 33 percent in rural areas have access to safe water while 57 percent of urban dwellers and only 13 percent of the rural population have access to basic sanitation.
Water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections, are among the principle causes of deaths in children under five years. PNG ranks currently at the bottom of all Pacific countries for all WASH related health statistics, with over 6,000 diarrheal deaths per year. In 2009 cholera re-emerged in PNG after 50 years. Over 60 per cent of the population use unimproved water supplies and less than 20 per cent use improved sanitation facilities, leading to widespread open defecation in rural communities.