On 27 October, Solomon Islands Forestry Minister and Member of Parliament for East Guadalcanal, Bradley Tovosia, and the Australian High Commissioner Matt Anderson launched the Ovana Community Rural Support Supply Project.

The project was funded jointly by Mr Tovosia through his Constituency funding ($75,000), and the Australian High Commission's Direct Aid Program ($75,000). It involved the construction of a small intake dam at the river, the main pipeline, reticulation and stand pipes, and took two months to build.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Tovosia said he was pleased to be able to deliver water to the women and those with disabilities in the village.

"This water project has been many years in the making," Mr Tovosia said. "Without the Australian High Commission's assistance, women would still be walking for hours every day to wash their children and prepare meals. Those with disabilities, including Enos Talumakana, would still have the added burden of having to struggle down bush paths for a kilometre on crutches, just to fetch water. Now the water comes to them in the village. This has changed their lives for the better."

Mr Tovosia also acknowledged Paramount Chief Severino Ola, Chief John Baito, Dale Tati, the plumber, and Provincial MP for Moli Ward Melgibs Topuhu for their support, technical expertise and leadership.

Australian High Commissioner Matt Anderson said he was honoured to visit the village with Minister Tovosia and to see first-hand the difference the water project was having on the Ovana community.

"This project is a partnership between the people of the Solomon Islands and Australia. This was your dream, and with the support of Minister Tovosia, and plenty of your own hard work, Australia was honoured to be able to contribute through this modest financial assistance," Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson said the hard working men and women of Ovana also made a substantial contribution through their dedication and hard work, laying more than one kilometre of pipes from the river. "You have brought one of life's most precious commodities to your doorstep, and you should be very proud of your achievement," Mr Anderson said.

The High Commissioner's Direct Aid Program is a flexible small grants program, with the primary function to alleviate humanitarian suffering in developing countries, through a focus on grass-roots, community-level development projects. Application forms and guidelines are available through the Australian High Commission in Honiara.

Source: Press Release, Australian High Commssion, Solomon Islands