In Pacific Island countries, demand for water and sanitation is growing. The need is greatest on atolls because of low rainfall and lack of natural storage possibilities. DESA is helping to build more responsive and resilient institutions, and in this process, better water resource management is a central theme.
There are over 1.5 million people living in Pacific Island countries (PICs), excluding Papua New Guinea . About 75% live in rural areas with a subsistence life style. Land tenure, ownership succession, family and village politics are generally unique to each country or even to each island or group of islands within a country. These cultural and political dimensions have implications when water resources are to be developed. Many Pacific Island countries have special political and economic relations with developed countries: the ex-US Trust Territories with the USA and many of the South Pacific island countries with Australia and New Zealand. The UK and France also have special interests in the PICs. As a result, the per capita aid that the PICs receive is the highest in the world.
There is an increasing demand for adequate water supply and sanitation in the growing urban areas in the region and for dependable and safe rural water supply. The problem of availability of water resources is much greater in atolls, where in most places rainfall is low and seasonal and there are no natural storage possibilities. In the volcanic islands, where rainfall is plentiful, there are problems to maintain and adequately operate water supply systems that were built by external support agencies.
UNDESA in collaboration with UNDP and UNCDF has provided finance technical support for water supply and sanitation projects in the least developed islands through a regional project in the early 1990ís and currently through specific support to the outer islands of Kiribati and with government trust funds to the Federated States of Micronesia.
This is a capacity building project designed to support Government's efforts to promote the development of outer islands of Kiribati. This project consists of four components. The first component will be institutional strengthening of local Government Bodies through the provision of direct support to the Island Councils so that they can become more responsive to the development needs of outer island people and be able to effectively plan, coordinate and implement development programmes. The second component will be institutional strengthening of the Ministry of Line and Phoenix Development (MLPD). The third component will focus on Water Resources Management and Water Unit of the Ministry of Works and Energy and the Health Education Unit of the Ministry of Health, Family planning and Social Welfare. The last component of the project aims to promote productive income generating activities in the rural areas through strengthening and promotion of the Credit Union Movement.