Data from 2017 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program shows that only half of the region’s population have access to improved drinking water sources and one-third uses improved sanitation. Without action the Pacific region is highly unlikely to reach the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) on providing access to clean water and sanitation by 2030.
One of the critical barriers for improving performance in the water sector is a lack of qualified and capable staff at different levels. This is a pressing need as investment in water is growing steadily in the region, and nearly all the Pacific countries have included water and wastewater infrastructure improvement projects in their development plans as a high priority.
The Pacific Water and Waste Association (PWWA) performance benchmarking surveys and other studies highlight the fragmentation of interventions in the water sector, weak regulatory environment and lack of institutional capacity. In this context, the effectiveness and sustainability of capacity-building and technical training initiatives is limited.
PRIF donor partners recognise the need to coordinate efforts and ensure more targeted and efficient assistance for capacity building in the water and sanitation sector in the region. The PRIF study will validate the needs and benefits of a regional approach and will recommend feasible models and options that build on existing practice in the Pacific, and provide insights on an implementation and funding framework that could support it.
‘In the Pacific context regional training initiatives can play a vital role in addressing the skill gaps and future requirements for the provision of adequate and sustainable water and sanitation services‘ said Sean O’Sullivan, PRIF Coordination Office Team Leader.
Consultations with Pacific countries’ water utilities, regional agencies and other actors and stakeholders in the water and sanitation sector are ongoing. The study is expected to be completed by end of the year.