Press Statement - 28 May 2013 - The Government of Vanuatu will be able to access US$4,000,000 from the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) Fund to set up a solar powered desalination plant in East Ambae on the Penama Province and Aniwa in the Tafea Province of Vanuatu.

The US$4million project was approved by the PEC Fund Joint Committee on 24 April 2013. A financing agreement between the Forum Secretariat and the Government of Vanuatu will soon be signed with implementation to begin shortly after.

Ambae, an island that is famous for its volcanic activity has its residents drawing water from lakes on the island for non potable uses. Like most places in the Pacific, the effect of climate change has resulted in extremities in rainfall patterns and this has further degraded the quality of water supply for the 10,500 people living on this island. This is a similar case for the 350 people on the island of Aniwa who also depend heavily on rain for potable water and brackish springs as their main sources of water.

Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Tuiloma Neroni Slade recently stated that “with the PEC Fund assistance, the people of Ambae and Aniwa can finally access an alternative and reliable supply of safe water.”

As a consequence of the challenging geography and poor infrastructure, the cost of fuel and logistical difficulties for stable fuel supply will be very costly. To address this issue, a solar powered generated system has been identified as the most feasible option to provide power for the operation of the large desalination plant on Ambae, while the small desalination plant on Aniwa will be powered by a diesel generator.

“No doubt this development intervention by the PEC Fund and Vanuatu Government will greatly benefit the lives of people in this community and improve their standard of living,” said Mr Slade.

The Government of Vanuatu will implement the project through the Energy Department with technical assistance from the Public Works Department, the Japanese private sector and a local private sector firm for the first two years, who will be engaged to perform maintenance service for the service of the solar desalination plant before the gradual handing over of systems to the Government of Vanuatu.

The PEC Fund is a commitment by the Government of Japan to provide ¥6.8billion (approximately US$66 million) to Forum Island Countries to tackle environmental issues. Each FIC is provided with an indicative allocation of USD$4million to support projects with a focus on the provision of solar power generation systems and seawater desalination plants or a combination of both. The fund is administered by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

To date, the Governments of Samoa, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands and now Vanuatu have successfully accessed the PEC Fund for national renewable energy and seawater desalination projects.