|Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report (UNICEF - WSSCC - WHO, 2000, 90 p.)|
Oceania is the least populated of the six regions described in this report. The current status of its sanitation coverage appears to be relatively good, with 93% of the population having access to improved sanitation; and 88% of the population has access to improved water supply. These figures are strongly biased by the large and well-served population of Australia. When the figures for Australia are excluded, coverage levels are much lower. Patterns of urban and rural coverage are difficult to distinguish, as some of the small islands in this region define themselves as either entirely urban or entirely rural.
Population growth in Oceania is expected to continue over the coming decades. To meet the 2015 international development targets, this means that an additional 7.3 million people will need access to improved water supply services, and an additional 6.5 million will need access to sanitation. The specific characteristics of the islands need to be taken into account in efforts to increase water supply and sanitation coverage. In Box 9.1 some of these aspects are discussed.
BOX 9.1 PACIFIC ISLANDS: CHALLENGES FOR SANITATION PROMOTION CULTURE AND TRADITION
Providing water supply and sanitation services is only half of the problem. The other half is making sure that people use them.
The national policy in Papua New Guinea requires water supply and sanitation to be implemented as a combined programme. Theoretically, no partner agency may support a water supply project without also providing support for sanitation, and vice versa. In the Solomon Islands, a rural water supply and sanitation project has increased the coverage of safe drinking water to about 70% of the population. The project operates on a cost-sharing basis: most of the materials are supplied at a subsidized rate by the project, while all the labour costs are met by the village community. The level of sanitation coverage is, however, low.
Cultural traditions and beliefs may constitute constraints to sanitation. For example, in Papua New Guinea, the ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine is the sanitation technology of choice. In the Solomon Islands, however, people will only accept flush latrines, even though VIP latrines are less costly and do not require a copious water supply. In many of the Pacific island countries, local people do not allow female children to use the same latrine as male children, although female children may use the latrine that is used by their parents. As a result, families are faced with the extra cost of having at least two latrines. Where this is too expensive, male children have to use the bushes.