Vanuatu National Water Strategy

Executive SummaryEvery Ni-Vanuatu citizen should have access to safe water sufficient to meet basic needs,including drinking, cooking and sanitation. The relatively abundant supply of fresh water inVanuatu should further increase livelihoods’ opportunities and be fully harnessed to improve theoverall economic standing of the country, both now and in the future.As Vanuatu’s population grows so demands on existing water sources will increase. Thesedemands when combined with the increasing risk of pollution and climate related changes couldbe expected to limit the future availability of potable water, constrain its productive use and impactnegatively on Vanuatu’s most precious resource, its pristine natural environment.This National Water Strategy aims to address these issues by overcoming constraints that limitsustainable development of the water sector including factors related to finances, humanresources, institutions and operations. In doing so, it gives effect to the NWRA, PPA and MTDFdirective of the Government of Vanuatu requiring detailed strategies and plans for all theGovernment Departments.At the institutional level, the strategy proposes a major change in the role of the Department ofGeology, Mines and Water Resources from that of service provider to main proponent andfacilitator of a new integrated water resource management approach. This will require taking aholistic, integrated, coordinated and decentralised approach, involving collaboration withcommunities, private sector and local government stakeholders.Key operational elements of this Strategy are the progressive devolution of responsibility,authority and resources for water resources management down to provincial government leveland community involvement in the planning, management and monitoring of water catchmentuse.VisionSustainable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation for the people of Vanuatu tosupport improved public health and promote social and economic development.Strategy ObjectivesObjective 1: A clear regulatory framework and roles between Departments established to providefor transparent and accountable regulation and management of water resources.Objective 2: DGMWR adequately structured and has sufficient capacity to deliver on theStrategy.Objective 3: Infrastructure operated and maintained by the communities with technical andmanagement support from the Provincial Office, private sector partners and theDepartment.Objective 4: Available water resources and catchments known, managed and protected.Objective 5: All water quality monitored and maintained to meet agreed standards.Objective 6: Appropriate and sustainable water and wastewater infrastructure installed to meetdomestic, customary use targets and needs for sustainable economic development.Objective 7: Information and response mechanism in place that allows for mutual informationsharing and accountability between government and stakeholders.41.0 Background1.1. Why Integrated Water ResourceManagement?It is necessary for Vanuatu to apply an IWRMapproach for managing its water to ensure thesustainable development of resources, whilemeeting aims for water supply coverage, equityand affordability. Water supply in Vanuatu ispublicly financed, managed with no cost recoveryand therefore beyond the financial capacity of thegovernment. The highly sectoral approachimposes unsustainably high economic, social andecological costs on the social and naturalenvironments in Vanuatu. An IWRM approach isa more holistic and participatory approach toresource management. There is a need torecognise the interdependencies within naturaleco-systems and the economical and socialsystems that affect demand for water.Stakeholder involvement in decisions assists inunderstanding these dynamics and ensuresappropriate systems are in place.With Vanuatu’s growing population base, ruralurbanmigration and shift from a predominantlysubsistence economy to a cash-economy thequality and quantity of available water resourcesis increasingly threatened by competing uses forwater. An IWRM approach uses participatoryplanning to ensure continued access to safewater supplies.1.2. Who is this strategy for?The National Water Resource Strategy and theIWRM approach will indirectly benefit all citizensof Vanuatu. It is considered the ruralcommunities will benefit the most from greateraccess to safe drinking water supplies fordomestic and customary use. The private sectorwill benefit from greater access to water purposesof economic development and environmentalprotection.The strategy will provide the Government ofVanuatu with a rational basis for sector-wideplanning which involves direct engagement withlocal government and communities, civil societygroups, private sector organisations and donorsfor effective national water resourcemanagement. It will further provide MLNR andDGMWR with a clear regulatory framework underwhich to implement the strategy.What is IWRM?Integrated water resources planning and managementaims to take appropriate account of importantphysical, social, economic and cultural linkages withina water resources system, such as:• physical linkages between land use, surface andgroundwater quantity and quality,• economic linkages between various, andsometimes competing, water uses,• social linkages between water developmentschemes and potential beneficiaries or thoseadversely affected, ensuring benefits of projectsaccrue equitably and• institutional linkages, both horizontally andvertically, among various formal and non-formalstakeholder institutions.Planning for IWRM involves making provision for waterdemand for six main purposes - 1) domestic supplies;2) irrigation; 3) hydro-electric power; 4) industrialproduction,5) cultural importance and 6) theprotection of ecosystems.Further, this approach must also accommodate six keytechnical functions. These are:1. The measurement of current water resourceavailability;2. Land-use planning3. Projection of future water resource availability;4. Watershed based water use planning, includingprioritised allocations;5. Implementation of water projects;6. Regulation including environmental protection;7.Monitoring and evaluation.From the institutional standpoint, the adoption of anIWRM approach normally requires fundamental shiftsin the roles, structures and outlooks of respectiveGovernment Departments including moving from aservice delivery focus or project approach to sectorfacilitation and regulation under a sector wideapproach (SWAp).The operationalisation of IWRM is commonly based onseveral key principles as follows:1. Considering all water in the hydrological cycleusing the watershed as the management andplanning unit.2. De-centralised planning and management.3. Taking an holistic (frequently traditional)approach to planning and implementation.4. Using local scale mapping, planning,implementation, monitoring and governance5. Agreeing priorities for water allocations withdomestic needs always satisfied first.6. Mandatory provision for sanitation, wastewater and EIA in all projects.7. A pluralistic approach to implementation -public, private and community functions.8. Accommodating equity issues, understandinggender roles in water management.9. Coordination between stakeholders andwater managers to provide input and committo sustainable watershed management.5Implementation of the strategy will benefit the people of Vanuatu through:• Improved national coverage of safe water and sanitation in line with national andinternationally agreed targets;• Community empowerment to protect and sustainably manage local water resources,particularly for women;• Information and accountability mechanisms which provide “voice” to communities and civilsociety during the planning, implementation, management and monitoring of waterprojects;• A regulatory and planning framework to ensure equitable, affordable and sustainableaccess to water supplies for all;• Greater NGO and private sector involvement (out-sourcing of contracts) in the design andimplementation of water projects;• Improved clarity within the Government on water regulation in urban areas;• More reliable and affordable water supplies for business and economic development; and• The protection of eco-systems through sustainable water resource management.1.3. How was the Strategy Developed?This strategy, and its objectives to improve policy and working practices, is evidence of theGovernments recognition of water as a critical resource for sustainable economic and socialdevelopment. Strategy formulation has accordingly taken into account current national, regionaland international policy commitments and the capabilities of both the DGMWR and other sectorstakeholders including other Government Departments, elected and customary localgovernment, NGOs, CBOs, the private sector, communities, women’s only groups and externaldevelopment partners. Operating procedures of the DGMWR including those related tofeasibility, design, implementation and cost recovery have also been reviewed.In developing this strategy the DGMWR has applied a participatory approach. A series ofcentral, provincial and community level consultations with key stakeholders was held. As aresult a strong consensus on both a vision for the sector and key Departmental objectives forthe coming ten year period has been reached. However, in order for these objectives to be met,continuing high levels of commitment for the strategy from both sector stakeholders and politicalparties will be required.

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