In addition to correcting the location of Mataruka village, the constituency where it is located and the MP representing this constituency, I think the name of the village elder who raised this issue with the journalist concerned should also be checked. As far as I am aware, there is no elder at Mataruka village by the name of Lawrence Mae, unless the person concerned wish to remain anonymous and supplied a pen name.
Anyway, Mataruka is a village located in the Malango ward of Central Guadalcanal; just a few kilometres further inland from St. Joseph's Secondary School, where they held the SSEC general Conference recently. The MP representing the Mataruka people is the MP for Central Guadalcanal, Peter Shannel, who is currently being imprisoned. The former MP was Walton Naezon.
For the information of readers, Mataruka Village is situated beside two rivers. Hence, the name Mataruka, meaning "the eyes of two rivers". Despite the few misquotations highlighted above, the issue regarding the need for clean water, raised by the Mataruka elder quoted in that news article, is a genuine concern and one that requires urgent attention. The water quality of the two rivers running down beside Mataruka village has deteriorated over the years, due to increased logging activities upper-stream, as well as an increase in the number of people erecting homes upper stream along these two rivers.
In fact, the Mataruka people do not use water from the rivers for cooking or drinking since the 1980s, but only for bathing and washing dishes and clothes, which is not that safe and can lead to people catching water-borne diseases, as highlighted in the article concerned. There are more villages further down the river from Mataruka village that face the same problem, or even worse.
Apart from the risk people have in contracting water-borne diseases, due to unclean water, the other major issue is the burden endured by women and children who have to walk long distances to collect water for cooking and drinking everyday, except for a few families who have access to rainwater tanks.
I think the Malango community leaders have neglected this issue for far too long and need to take some responsibility in addressing this matter urgently, with the assistance of both their provincial and national representatives. Such are the kind of community needs that MPs should set as priority in their quest to assist rural people in improving their standards of living. Hence, should commit reasonable portions of their time and funds allocated to them towards addressing such needs.
There are good water sources within reasonable distance from where Mataruka village is located that can be easily piped to Mataruka village. I believe that easy access to clean drinking water is the dream of all women and children, not only from Mataruka village, but throughout the Solomons, who have to bear the burden of walking long distances everyday to collect safe drinking water for their families. I salute those MPs who have recognised this need and have assisted their people to have water piped to their villages. As for the people of Mataruka village, as well as the surrounding villages downstream in the Malango area, they will just have to wait in anticipation for that day.
Villagers plea for clean water
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Patricia Rodi and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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