Pacific Island countries lag behind the rest of the world in access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) services.
Dr. Carmen Anthonj, a postdoctoral research associate in the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Water Institute, completed a project funded by UNICEF Pacific and implemented in collaboration with the Governments and Ministries of Health of Fiji, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands. The collaboration aimed to strengthen national WaSH sector monitoring and implementation as part of achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Inequalities in access to adequate water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management were a dominant focus. Data collection, analysis and reporting on WaSH revealed urban-rural inequalities of WaSH in households. Researchers also found inequalities in WaSH across different provinces, different school types in the Solomon Islands and different types of health care facilities in Fiji and Kiribati.
Weather- and climate-related results showed domestic sanitation infrastructure is vulnerable under extreme rainfall scenarios. Infrastructure vulnerability and low adaptability will likely lead to increased health risks. Analysis of disaster preparedness and response to the 2016 Tropical Cyclone showed that health care facilities in Fiji are not prepared to respond to an increased burden of disease during and after extreme weather events.
Dr. Anthonj’s project underlined the need to understand and contextualize WaSH and related SDG 6 indicators with the other SDGs. Progress in WaSH should be linked to SDG 3 on human health, SDG 13 on climate action, SDG 10 on reducing inequalities, SDG 9 on resilient infrastructure, and SDG 17 on partnerships and collaboration.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on December 27