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Vanuatu: Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH)

The Qwetion Community welcomed ABM staff members to give them a tour of the successful WASH project installation. © Kate Winney/ABM. 2016.

The Qwetion Community welcomed ABM staff members to give them a tour of the successful WASH project installation.
© Kate Winney/ABM 2016.

Community Development project


This is part of the Community Development Program:
Learn more about ABM’s Programs here


In 2017, 11 new communities have been identified for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Program support. This includes the installation of five tanks, 43 Ventilation Improved Pit (VIP) toilets, and repairs to an established gravity-fed water system. The Anglican Church of Melanesia in Vanuatu’s (ACOMV) volunteers will also focus on delivering hygiene awareness and safe practices training, along with Rural Health department workers, to all the communities who have participated in the program.

To assist in this, a WASH Information Kit has been compiled by ACOMV to guide activities, including information on gender equality, disability inclusion, community consultation, child protection, and risk mitigation. Training will also be provided to all local WASH committees in leadership, financial management, fundraising and general business and administration, which will foster local ownership and ensure the long-term sustainability of the projects.

All these activities will involve over 3,650 people, with many more family and community members benefiting through the training and infrastructure being delivered.

Despite the future plans and previous success of this project, as well as the large numbers of lives impacted, as of July 2016 this program no longer receives funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). ABM will continue to support the work and staff members visited Gaua in Vanuatu in late 2016 to see the success for themselves.

Gaua boasts an active volcano, lush tropical vegetation, and a beautiful aqua coastline. However, many isolated rural communities live scattered throughout the island, far from essential services and mainland conveniences.

ACOMV had met with leaders in the village of Qwetion and agreed to implement a WASH project there to meet the huge need. The nearest sources of water were over 30 minutes walk, either up the steep hill to a running stream, or down to the coast, where fresh water can be dug up from the sand during low tide. The only toilets were open pits, which posed the constant threat of disease and injury, especially to young children.

When the ABM team arrived to view the work they were impressed to see 10 VIP toilets had been built, two reservoir tanks had been established near the water source up hill, and piping had been laid to provide eight water points within the community.

The whole village was there to greet them, around 60 people altogether, and spoke with enthusiasm about the project. It had truly been a collaborative effort: the local community had provided the materials for the toilet walls and the labour to construct buildings, foundations, and pits for the toilets and pipes, while ACOMV volunteers from Luganville had provided the expertise and training, along with supplies of tanks, piping, fittings and concrete purchased with ABM funding.

A WASH committee had also been established within the village to care for the new infrastructure, raise money for ongoing maintenance, and encourage people to practise safe hygiene. ACOMV has arranged for its key volunteers to be trained by the Government of Vanuatu’s Rural Health Department in order that they may in turn provide training to local WASH committee members. It is essential to have these dedicated local advocates of hygiene to educate and encourage healthy practice on an ongoing basis ensuring nothing is forgotten or neglected.

This success was just in one village. WASH program Coordinator, Mrs Rucinta Vora, reported that six sites in the Torba Province (of which Gaua is a part) received WASH facilities despite delays caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam in early 2015. This equated to 42 VIP toilets and 11 water tanks being established, along with repairs to two gravity-fed water systems. As a result, approximately 1,800 people are now able to access clean water and safe sanitation facilities, ensuring healthier and more productive communities in this region.

ABM’s Pacific Programs Officer, Kate Winney reflected on her visit and said, “What amazed me the most were the volunteers, that the whole WASH program is run by volunteers. The key volunteers at ACOMV are basically doing a full-time job, going out to communities all the time to train and coordinate work. And in the villages, everyone is so keen to help and work hard for nothing apart from the community benefit. This being my first trip to Vanuatu, it was really unexpected and I’m so impressed by that selflessness.”

Please give to this project offering thousands of people access to clean water and hygiene facilities.

VU006WS needs $74,000 in 2017 (tax-deductible)



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Gifts to ABM will be applied to the support of project(s) selected. In the unlikely event of the project being oversubscribed or not proceeding to completion, donations will be applied to a similar project to the one(s) selected.



June 2017 – Father Nicholson Worek is 71 years old, and comes from Mota Lava Island in the Banks region of Vanuatu. He left his home several months ago for the nearby island of Vanua Lava, to serve as a parish priest for the remote Ambek community, deep within the islands’ jungle interior. Read more.

Not a Drop to Drink

A documentary about ABM’s water projects in Vanuatu.


WASH article 

Jacob Landsmeer, a Student Journalist, recently wrote an article about the WASH Program in Vanuatu. It gives an interesting overview of the challenges and issues faced by local communities there, particularly in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam, but also highlights the importance of ABM’s work with the Church. View the article here: Barely a Drop to Drink: Vanuatu’s Problem with Water Sanitation.