- Reseach project
- – Western Pacific
Read the latest updates about the International WaterCentre, as well as contemporary water sector insights, water management news, and conversations with researchers, practitioners and students, from both Australia and abroad.
19 November 2020
Did you know that 4.2 billion people do not have access to safely managed sanitation around the world?In 2020, the lucky ones amongst us have been enjoying our home toilets more than usual thanks to COVID-19 restrictions. What better chance to daydream of your next overseas visit? When you think about where to travel, will you be thinking about the quality of the hotel bathroom facilities? And what of the toilet facilities of surrounding communities? One IWC research project, Engaging corporate actors for inclusive WASH-at-work, is unpacking the real water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) situation in hotels and surround communities in Indonesia and Fiji. Whilst it has been hit hard by COVID-19 travel restrictions, Mandalika in Lombok (Indonesia) is tipped to be the next ‘big Bali’. It is an increasingly popular and rapidly developing tourism destination for domestic and international visitors. While tourists there enjoy excellent services, this is not necessarily the case for locals, with between 5-15% of the population in surrounding villages not having access to toilets at home. Solutions to address this gap need concerted efforts of government, communities as well as hotels who all have a role to play in delivering clean and healthy environments. To read more about this project’s work to develop Inclusive WASH-at-work approaches with hotels and other stakeholders for equitable development visit the project site. [caption id="attachment_3220" align="alignnone" width="668"] IWC's WASH project teams wish you a Happy World Toilet Day![/caption] NOTE: Banner image photo credit, Jax10289/istock via Getty Images.
By Brian McIntosh How on earth will we keep going? This is a thought that many educators in Australia are asking right now, about whether the programs they run will be possible to run next year or beyond. COVID-19 will be sticking around for a while and we’re certainly wrestling with this question at the International WaterCentre. How can we keep going? But rather than just accepting a struggle, how can we set in place the arrangements that will let us thrive? How can we adapt what we do to remain true to our founding mission ‘to change the way that people think and act to solve complex water management challenges?'
...whilst we are asking ourselves ‘how on earth will we keep going’ in this upturned COVID world, we are also looking keenly to how we can innovate, adapt and improve.In Australia, COVID-19, means that our international borders remain closed and even some of our internal state borders are closed or require expensive 2 week hotel quarantine periods once you have passed over them. Paying a $2000 or $3000 hotel bill for quarantine is a bit of a deterrent to inter-state travel one has to imagine. So, we need to think really differently about how we deliver the best transformative integrated water management educational experience within the constraints of not being able to travel much, if it all. 2021 will not be a normal year. 2020 has already been a year of rapid adaptation and far from normal delivery. April and May drove us to trial some innovations like the deliberate seeding of leadership behaviours to help our cohort glue together and support each other under lockdown. We ended up on a really fast sprint to online delivery and the creation of ‘Water Droplets’, an interactive online weekly series of guest speakers covering everything from blockchain water trading systems to community-driven urban stream restoration, to both help our students gain insights from some of the most exciting and experienced practitioners around, and to meet and talk with them. Sort of networking for professional development in an online COVID world way. We’re currently looking for ways to connect interested students to professional practice to enrich their learning further and to take the next steps in evolving their careers. 2021 will be a year of further change, but we don’t need to plan and do at the same time. We have a few months up our sleeves to plan and implement the changes we want and need for 2021. What are we thinking of?
By Dr Lachlan Guthrie and Thomas Pitts, In support of the Australian Government’s Partnerships for Recovery policy, the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) has launched the COVID-19 Water Security Risk Index, developed by Griffith University researchers. The index enables governments, communities, and development organisations to identify risks and prioritise water-related responses in the Indo-Pacific. Supported by the AWP, researchers at Griffith University’s International Water Centre and the School of Medicine have collaborated to develop the innovative Index, drawing on readily available global datasets. Building on the Asian Development Bank’s Asian Water Development Outlook approach, as well as public health risk frameworks, it considers factors that influence a country’s vulnerability to respond to COVID-19 risks from a water security perspective. “The index enables us to identify the points of concern for each country and prioritise the most appropriate water-based interventions to reduce a country’s risk of COVID-19 impacts in the short-term and build long-term resilience,” said Dr Lachlan Guthrie, International Water Centre project leader. He said while the ability of people to wash their hands is vitally important, it was only one of many important water-related factors that influence risk. “We’ve been able to show that water can play a major role in the response to and recovery from COVID-19, not just hygiene which is obviously very important. “In the majority of Pacific countries, for example, they are recording a relatively low number of cases which reflects their ability to delay a COVID-19 outbreak from ‘sparking’. However, when their borders reopen they would be at extremely high risk due to poor access to water and sanitation, and having the highest rates of mortality risk factors in the Asia-Pacific.” Associate Professor Anne Roiko, from the School of Medicine, who led the public health angle of the project said their work on the index highlighted the critical role of water in understanding and dealing with the pandemic. “In our framing of the COVID-19 Water Security Risk Index, we integrated elements of environmental and public health, biomedical science, economics, engineering, and water, sanitation and hygiene.” Dr Guthrie said their work was a great starting point. “What is exciting, is the potential to collaborate with other researchers and stakeholders and address specific and equally important challenges as we learn more about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and what strategies minimise its impacts.” AWP CEO, Professor Nick Schofield, emphasised Australia’s role in helping its neighbours. “This index is supporting COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery activities across the Indo-Pacific to secure our region’s health, wellbeing and stability in these challenging times.” NOTE: This article was previously posted on Griffith News.
By mid-2021, the International Water Centre’s Dr Regina Souter hopes that many of the communities in the Solomon Islands and Fiji will have better access to safe and secure water, something that will dramatically improve health outcomes. Progress depends not so much on infrastructure as it does on local human capacity and political will, says the WASH and IWM specialist, who applies research and teaching to improve practical water management in the Pacific Islands. One of those research projects is Pacific Community Water Management Plus (PaCWaM+), which is a partnership with Griffith University, the University of South Pacific, and Solomon Islands National University, with the CSO Plan International Australia, Live and Learn Solomon Islands, Habitat for Humanity Australia, and Habitat for Humanity Fiji, as part of the Australian Government’s Water 4 Women Fund. “At the moment, many rural communities are supported to install water systems, but largely left on their own to operate and maintain the systems, including fixing unfamiliar technical problems or rehabilitating systems after disasters,” says Regina. “The PaCWaM+ research aims to identify ways communities can be better supported so that their water systems are more resilient, providing safe drinking water and meeting the needs of all members of the community, so that health and wellbeing are maximised.” There are also difficulties for communities in urban areas in accessing safe water and sanitation. “In Honiara in the Solomon Islands, 30 per cent of the population are living in unplanned settlements and most don’t have piped water services or safe sanitation,” says Regina.
Access to clean water is seen by many as a fundamental human right, but in some parts of the developing world, women are being forced to pay for it through ‘sextortion’. Pillar Avello, Program Manager for water governance at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), says that the problem is pervasive.