By STEPHANIE ELIZAH
PAPUA New Guinea is among 14 countries in the Pacific bidding for a portion of the Japanese government’s 6.8 billion yen (US$66 million or K200 million) to fund an extraction of fresh water from saltwater project.
The grant will be dispersed through Pacific Environment Fund (PEF ) to the successful bidders this year to assist selected Pacific island nations.
Inter-government relations first secretary James Tapo said the project was crucial to island countries, including PNG, whose outlying islands and atolls were being affected by water shortage due to heavy rains and rise in sea level.
“This is the first time that PNG has considered and is bidding for the solar desalination plant project which will make possible sourcing of fresh water by recycling salt water.
“For too long we have relied on bore water wells and water tanks but that is not enough to help.
“We have to consider what is out there in sourcing reliable water supply,” Taposaid.
He said after much deliberation and research, the PNG proposal identified Bipi island in Manus and Catarets in Autonomous Region of Bougainville, as the first two locations for the projects.
He said Fisherman Island in Port Moresby was listed on standby, should PNG win the bid.
“These locations were identified for their large population density, their remoteness from nearest service facilities and the impact of rise in sea level which has saturated their water wells,” Tapo said.
As part of the Japanese government’s screening process, two representatives of Hitachi Plant Technology and Aqua-Tech Engineering and Supplies Ltd, specialists of the solar desalination plant project, met with senior officers of the Inter-government relations and national disaster and emergency (NDE) in Port Moresby yesterday.
NDE director Martin Mose said the visit marked a milestone in the history of international cooperation between Japan and PNG as both countries were focused on restoring the country’s island communities.