The objective of the programme is to build sustainable national capacity for monitoring the quality of water (drinking, surface, ground and coastal). Specifically, the key components of the programme worked towards building local capacity on water quality monitoring through laboratory training, provision of equipment and improved data management; creation of a functioning water quality network; increased public awareness on water and health issues; and enabling government agencies to make informed decisions based on water quality data through pilots in the selected countries (Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Niue and Vanuatu).
The overall goal of the Pacific WASH programme is to improve the lives of Pacific Island people by helping to increase access to water resources and sanitation through improved management of water resources and the development of adequate and sustainable water supply, improved facilities and hygienic practices for all. The WASH programme was officially established in early 2005 to support and reinforce the MDG goals and targets on water and sanitation.
Many water utilities in Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have problems meeting the continuously increasing demand for water in part because more water is lost through leakage and wastage than is actually delivered. With more pressure on limited and vulnerable water resources influenced by an increasingly variable climate regime, many PICs have realised that the key towards sustainability lies not in costly infrastructure extension but in sound management of existing water supplies.
The scattered nature of the islands and the limited human and financial resource base in the Pacific island countries demand the shift from the traditional reliance on national surveillance authorities to empowering communities to keep their water supplies safe. It is believed that the approach of training local facilitators to promote the Water Safety Plans (WSP) concept to households in rural and outer island communities can be effective and successful to achieve the goal of providing safe drinking water to the population. A Water Safety Plan is a risk management approach to ensure the safe quality of drinking water from the catchment to the consumer. It basically identifies risks of contamination to the water supply and implements best practices to mitigate those risks. It is recognised that access to water alone does not guarantee that it is safe for human consumption