By Ezekiel Talatau
THE population in Honiara has risen drastically since the last census in 2009. With the next census expected to be held next year, the increasing number of urban drifters should be a cause of concern for the government.
Every year Solomon Islands have on average an annual growth rate of 2.3 percent or an increase of 10,661 people per year.
For Honiara alone, the total population in the last census was 64,609. The amount would have increased further by now. For the local water authority, according to their 30 year strategic plan, Solomon Water provides water services to 58,000 people in Honiara and surrounding areas in Guadalcanal.
Now there is a higher demand for water and the local water authority is still a long way to go in supplying water for the increasing population.
In informal settlements, most people are living without piped water.
Island Sun recently went to Mamulele Community in east Honiara and saw firsthand the dire situation of people’s access to piped water. Comprising of hundreds of families, the community’s access to water is only to two stand-alone water pipes alongside the road. This is where the men, women and children of this community bathe, wash and fetch water for drinking.
Miss Florence Benny from Mamulele community was keen to speak to Island Sun and told us about their situation. She said water to these two stand pipes are sourced from a dam further up.
“The water supply is provided for us by an Asian owned company. We are lucky that the company does not charge us any fee for the use of water”, she said.
She said people as far as green valley also come to their area for water.
“The demand for water is increasing, therefore we call on the responsible authority to address such issue as it will lead to future problems for this community”.
The community in Mamulele that has no access to Solomon Water’s services however hopes to have water piped into their homes in the near future and had expressed their gratitude to the Asian Owned Company that had assisted them with their basic need.
Meanwhile Solomon Water on the other hand is optimistic that they will ensure Solomon Islands have a stable, healthy and safe urban water and waste water supply for the next 30 years.
During its launch of the 30 year strategic plan earlier this year, Solomon Water’s Board Chairman Phil Bradford says the work plan is an ambitious foundation for the organization’s future.
“The work we’ve set ourselves to achieve over the next 30 years is ambitious, and I’m more than confident we will achieve what we’re setting out to do. The outcome will have a positive impact on everyone’s lives”.
“The plan will help us to focus in on where our attention needs to go, so we can continue to provide a great service to our current and future customers.
Meanwhile Solomon Water’s General Manager (GM) Ian Gooden has said the 30 year plan gives them a clear direction for the future.
“Most of the work is about maintaining and developing not only our networks, pump stations and natural resources to deliver clean, safe, healthy water, but it’s also about developing our people and their capacity as well to deliver on our ambitious plan. The most important and urgent requirement is to secure more water for Honiara which will otherwise be subjected to rationing again in a few years due to its rapid growth.
Government too on the other hand is obliged to fulfill its role as a member of the United Nations. In 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came into the picture with SDG 6, ‘clean water and sanitation’ a must for nations to achieve. By 2030, member countries of the UNs are expected to achieve the target goals set out in SDG 6.
On the whole, by 2030, all Solomon Islanders should be able to access clean water and sanitation.