PNG off-track on achieving goals on sanitation

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 15th November 2011

PAPUA New Guinea is seriously off-track in meeting its Millennium Deve­lopment Goals (MDGs) for sanitation because of lack of government investment.
A report from the European Union’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation programme said for the go­vernment to achieve its 2030 target of having 70% of the population access proper sanitation, an estimated 450,000 to 60,000 rural households would need to gain sanitation each year.
The report, released at a two-day conference on water, sanitation and hygiene in Port Moresby, showed that the largest water and sanitation programme in the country would have reached only 4% of the rural population in its six-year life, which ends next year.
It cited high population growth, geographical diversity, isolated communities and complex communication with low income earning as major challenges.
To date, the programme, through its community-led total sanitation (CLTS) exercise, has reached over 400 communities in 15 rural provinces with the support of non-state agencies. About 20,000 latrines are to be built by 2012.
The report showed that Eastern Highlands was on its way to becoming the first open defecation-free province with Kukura village in the Lufa district becoming the first community to achieve a 100% rate, meaning each household has a toilet.
Central, on the other hand, was ca­tegorised as a difficult province to work with because of its closeness to the city and the free handout mentality of the people.
Health Minister Jamie Maxtone-Graham said he would push the government for funds to develop water, sanitation and health services in the country.
Speaking at the closing of the water, sanitation and hygiene conference in Port Moresby, Maxtone-Graham said his goal was to promote the health of Papua New Guineans and the conference had helped him achieve that.
His statement came in response to the concerns raised by the European Union Rural Water and Sanitation Programme and other non-state agencies on the future of water, sanitation and hygiene development in the country after the EU stops funding in 2012.
He said he was prepared to support stakeholders in developing a national water policy.
“I don’t want to build expensive hospitals, or train more doctors. These are long-term goals.
“I want to concentrate on community mobilisation on how we can educate our people to be preventative so that we can help reduce government spending,” he said.

axtone-Graham thanked the EU for providing K75 million (US$35 million) through the programme. – Pacnews