Yesterday in Port Vila was held the handover ceremony of the Mobile Water Desalination Units Project, from the French Embassy, represented by Dominique Vaysse, Cooperation counsellor, representing also the Regional Cooperation Convention between France, New-Caledonia and Vanuatu, to the Department of Geology, Mines and Rural Water Supplies.
Hon Mr. Ralph RENGENVANU, Minister of Land and Natural Resources was represented by his 1st Political Advisor, Mr. Sera KUAUTONGA, his 2nd Political Advisor Mr. Joseph LALOYER, and his private Secretary, Mr. Josue WERSET.
The Department of Geology, Mines and Rural Water Supplies was represented by Mr. Joe LIGO, Director General, Mr. Erickson SAMMY, Director, Mrs Rossette Kalmet, Head of Project Unit, and by its engineers from Port Vila and from Sanma, Malampa and Shefa Provinces.
Sandrine WALLEZ, president of Activ Association, was here as the administrative partner of the project.
The Mobile Water desalination project is an answer to a request expressed by the Prime Minister’s office concerned about water shortage in rainwater dependent islands.
The project aims at providing water to schools and communities using water mobile desalination units during droughts periods. As we all know, climate change might bring other drought episodes such as El Nino few months ago. Some small and flat islands in Vanuatu, which are rainwater dependent, are very vulnerable to these episodes especially in terms of fresh water supply.
The choice of the priority islands in terms of water needs was made by the operator of the project, the Department of Geology, Mines and Rural Water Supplies according to criteria such as water requirements, mobile units’ technical constraints and location accessibility. This department identified the places most affected by water shortage during drought and chose 14 islands distributed on Malekula, Santo and the Shepherd: Norsup, Uribif, Uri, Rano, Wala, Atchyn, Vao, Tutuba, Mafea, Emae, Tongariki, Buniga, Makira, Mataso.
These islands will be supplied by 4 mobile desalination units moved by boat from one island to the other one. The desalination units will be under the responsibility of Rural Water Supplies’ and Public Works’ engineers in the three provinces.
These engineers were trained last Friday on the good use and maintenance of the desalination units by Aaron Prendergast from Vanuatu Agricultural Supply. They will go back to their island with the machines and will ensure storage, maintenance and service of the units by boat in case of emergency, drought or crisis situation, using the DESSPAC emergency funds (for fuel). They will also be in charge of collecting data on quantity and quality of water distributed in schools and communities, and of reporting to Port Vila Department of Rural Water Supplies.
This project is funded through the Regional Cooperation Convention between France, New-Caledonia and Vanuatu, for a cost of about 4 million Vatus (33 000 €). It has been designed with the technical support and expertise of the Department of Geology, Mines and Rural Water Supplies.
Yesterday, the material related to this project was handed over to the Department of Geology, Mines and Rural Water Supplies: 4 Rainman mobile desalination units that come along with spare parts and maintenance parts for a one year use.
The Department of Geology, Mines and Rural Water Supplies is now in charge of this pioneer project to ensure a good coordination with all partners involved in this project: Department of Public Works, Energy Department, DESSPAC, Department of Local Authorities, Ministry of Education and Training, National Disaster Management Office, provincial authorities and communities.
They will ensure sustainability to this project to supply fresh water to the most needing ones.