By Timothy Inifiri Jr
The European Union (EU) have announced their EUR 18 million (SBD 168 million) contribution to improve access to safe water and improved sanitation in urban areas and outskirts in the country.
The announcement was made by the Ambassador of the European Union for Solomon Islands, H.E Sujiro Seam during a meeting with members of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MoFT), the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE) and Solomon Water in Honiara yesterday.
Ambassador Seam during the meeting said that the EU’s support is not only in line with the Solomon Islands government’s priorities, but it also aligns to the EU’s Global Gateway strategy.
“The EU has supported water, sanitation and hygiene in rural areas of the Solomon Islands since 2014. This long-term commitment translates today into the EU contribution towards the project, which will provide the people of Honiara and other urban areas with access to quality water, thus contributing to the improvement of people’s lives”, said Seam.
The contribution comes as part of the US 77 million (nearly SBD 643 million) worth of the ongoing five-year Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project (UWSSSP)which EU has contributed around US 20 million.
The UWSSSP comes with the objective of developing sustainable, inclusive and climate resilient water supply and improved sanitation for Solomon Islanders and also targets improved efficiency, climate change and disaster resiliency, and sustainability of safe water and sanitation in Honiara, Auki, Gizo, Noro, Munda and Tulagi.
Ambassador Seam during the meeting also highlighted that this is EU’s largest investment in infrastructure in the pacific islands, with water and sanitation being a critical sector with the climate change issue in the region.
The Ambassador also mentioned that the EU will also be delivering two other projects in the country that are to be implemented which include EU together with UNDP will support the upcoming General Elections with EUR 5.5 million.
Board Chairman of Solomon Water, Donald Marahare during the meeting said that the support from EU marks a significant milestone in their efforts to improve water infrastructure in the country.
“Our vision is ‘Safe Water for a Healthy Nation’ and this joint effort will play a transformative role in ensuring that the people we serve in urban and peri-urban areas have access to safe water and improved sanitation”, Marahare said.
Meanwhile, the project will also enhance hygiene awareness, promote water conservation and improved faecal sludge management.