Next time you are in the bathroom, have a look around. What do you see? A toilet, some toilet paper, a lock on the door, running water, soap, a towel, a cupboard full of toilet cleaner? Then spend a moment and think about the impact on you and your family’s life if you didn’t have access to these everyday necessities.
Did you know that 10% of the world’s population live without clean water; that one in three people don’t have access to adequate sanitation and that every year and 289,000 children under 5 die from diarrheal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation?
In April 2017, Matthew Crouch had the opportunity to visit Papua New Guinea (PNG) on client assignment with WaterAid Australia.
For everyone and everywhere
WaterAid is an international not-for-profit, which operates in 38 countries and reached 1.9 million people last year. WaterAid’s goal is to get clean water, sanitation and hygiene to everyone everywhere by 2030. WaterAid has been in PNG for 13 years.
PNG is a beautiful country, with an incredible landscape and hospitable people. It has a rich history and has a special connection with Australia. However, 60% of the population lacks access to clean water and 81% are without access to adequate sanitation, ranking PNG third last in countries for clean water access globally. WaterAid PNG has a mission to transform the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people by improving access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. They are doing this through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) projects, including government advocacy, community engagement, hygiene and sanitation awareness, provision of water tanks and toilets and using sport to change hygiene behaviour.
Matthew’s visit to PNG was to undertake the audit of the WaterAid PNG entity and to also undertake a review of the project partners WaterAid PNG engages with. The aim of the Project Partners review was to understand the challenges they face and look for ways that they can be more efficient and effective in how they operate and provide recommendations so they can ensure they have a strong control environment. Matthew also had the opportunity to visit a number of communities and schools to see the impact that the WaterAid PNG projects are having.
A huge impact
One of Matthew’s visits was to Simbrangu, a village located on the mountain outside Wewak in the East Sepik region of PNG. Simbrangu is home to over 300 people. Before WaterAid and its project partner, Integrated Rural Development Initiative (IRDI), became involved in Simbrangu, the only access the people had to water was for the women to carry buckets up and down the steep, wet and slippery track to their water source many times per day. While this was essential for survival, the water was often unclean and caused many related issues. With WaterAid PNG and IRDI’s involvement and strong community engagement, the community now has access to clean drinking water through the provision of 15 rain water catchments, 15 toilets and significantly improved health outcomes through sanitation and hygiene awareness training. Matthew discussed this with the Village Councillor who said the impact has been significant. His people are no longer getting sick and having to visit the health post, the women are happy because they no longer have to trek for water and he said they all now know why it is so important to keep the place clean and wash their hands after going to the toilet.
As Matthew was leaving, the Village Councillor said, “everything is provided by you, thank you.” While Matthew is not about to take credit for the work that WaterAid PNG and IRDI have done in the community, this project was funded by the Australian Government and generous donations from the Australian community. WaterAid PNG and IRDI have undertaken similar projects in communities over the past five years. However, there are nearly 300 more communities in the East Sepik region alone which have expressed interest in similar projects.
Saward Dawson has supported and partnered with WaterAid for a number of years. This partnership has included the provision of the statutory audit, financial reporting and accounting standard compliance assistance, business development, not-for-profit taxation assistance and recommendations on improvements in the control environment for overseas entities in how they report and manage their resources. WaterAid has a number of initiatives in Australia to raise the awareness of the issues in the developing world, including World Water Day, Gifts for Life and charity events.
There are many projects just waiting on financial support. Can you help?
For more information about WaterAid, the impact they are having and their initiatives, checkout the WaterAid website.
So next time you are in the toilet think about life without some of the necessities, how you could make an impact and remember to wash your hands.