Fostering WASH marketing exchange systems in the Pacific

The project ‘Community Water and Sanitation in the Pacific: Fostering Sustainable WASH Marketplaces’ – coordinated by the International WaterCentre (IWC) – is making headway. Several communities in Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are now in a position to work towards better water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions for their settlements.

     Community members in Solomon Islands showing enabling actors the WASH conditions within their settlement. Photo: Semisi Meo

Community members in Solomon Islands showing enabling actors the WASH conditions within their settlement. Photo: Semisi Meo

The Wailea community in Fiji, for example, has investigated several sanitation technologies with the wider community, with many households showing interest in compost toilets. They are now in the process to determine whether compost toilets are a suitable technology for their community and are preparing a proposal to build a pilot system using locally available materials.

The project is a partnership between the IWC, Monash University, University of the South Pacific, University of North Carolina and Live & Learn Environmental Education. The research team works collaboratively with impoverished informal communities as well as local governments, utilities and community service organisations in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

It investigates the access communities have to WASH products and services, how communities use these WASH products and services, and how such access and use can impact on individual and community well-being. The aim is to understand and help foster the conditions under which sustained, self-determined WASH exchange systems can operate in Pacific island communities. The project uses a process known as participatory action research, where the communities and local organisations (so called ‘enabling actors’) are co-researchers alongside the research team.

The main role of IWC and its research partners is to facilitate action planning and bring communities and enabling actors together, particularly in areas where government and community service organisations are already running WASH improvement programs.  While the main goal is to empower local communities to improve their WASH situation, the project will also provide valuable insights into WASH marketing exchange systems that can be applied to policy and practice in Melanesia more widely.

The project is funded by the Australian Aid Program under the Australian Development and Research Awards Scheme. For more information see: http://www.watercentre.org/news/field-update-fostering-wash-marketing-exchange-systems-in-the-pacific

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