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Tank installed at Kujabi Aidpost in the remote North Koroba LLG area of Koroba Kopiago district

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), only 40% of the country’s population (4.6 million people) has access to safe drinking water. This is one of the lowest rates in the Pacific Islands, according to the World Bank.

This is a major challenge faced by many rural communities in PNG, and Hela Province is no exception. The 7.5 magnitude earthquake that hit the Highlands in 2018, polluting rivers and creeks and destroying water tanks across communities only made this challenge harder.

Working with the PNG Government agencies and the Australian Government, since October 2018 the Oil Search Foundation (OSF) has supported the distribution and installation of over 160 large water tanks across 90 locations including health facilities churches and schools. It has taken a marathon partnership effort to get these many tanks into remote parts of Hela, fully installed, and with communities engaged in ensuring they are maintained and protected.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the Government has placed special emphasis on regular handwashing, which means having easy access to water is essential.

“The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the need for water and sanitation everywhere. The installation of water tanks in Hela ensures clean water access for the population.” "We helped to install tanks across Hela including in remotes parts of the Koroba-Kopiago district and in some Kutubu communities. We couldn’t have done this without the support of churches and community leaders."
- Stephanie Copus- Campbell OSF Executive Director

Leader of the Pai Catholic church, Doreen Pipiki said, “The tanks provide a sense of comfort to mothers and young girls. Before this, we had to walk long distances often across steep hills and thick bushes carrying heavy water containers back and forth to our homes. The distance and the heavy load caused back pains and tiredness and was not safe, but this will no longer be an issue for our women and girls.”

The Officer in Charge of Hangapo health centre, Mrs Memago expressed that, “There were times when there was no water at the health centre, which meant we couldn’t see and treat sick patients. But now, this water tank will provide constant clean water supply for us. We can help sick patients.”

water tank installation with two men