The people of Tearoku on the Guadalcanal Plains have welcomed the handover on Thursday of new water and sanitation facilities that have provided Tearoku's first clean running water and will improve health standards across the community.

The three water tanks and taps and eight pour-flush toilets will significantly reduce waterborne diseases for the coastal community of approximately 62 people, most of whom are subsistence farmers and fishermen. Before the toilets were installed, they had no option but to use the beach.

The new sanitation facilities were funded by the Australian Government Aid Program, through the Health Sector Support Program, which works in partnership with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The Ministry provided technical staff to implement the project, through its Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Division. The Division's Honiara Headquarters and Guadalcanal Province personnel worked as a team with the Tearoku community to discuss all aspects of the project and to undertake health and hygiene awareness training before project construction commenced.

Working towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is a high priority for the Australian and Solomon Islands Governments. This project helps the Tearoku community towards the goal of ensuring access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

The $148,000 project was funded through a $4.5 million allocation made through the Health Sector Support Program in the 2009 budget. It demonstrates Australia's ongoing commitment to improving livelihoods across Solomon Islands through the Bilateral Aid Program.

The Australian High Commissioner, Mr Frank Ingruber, said the handover of the new water tanks would also make a big difference in the lives of the women of Tearoku.

"In many rural communities across Solomon Islands, women have to walk long distances to collect fresh drinking water for their families," Mr Ingruber said. "Twice a day, the women of Tearoku and their children used to walk to a site about one kilometre away to collect their drinking water.

"It meant hard work for those women, and less time to spend on other important tasks. Access to clean water and good sanitation within their own community will make a huge difference to people's daily lives and will promote better health by protecting them from the illnesses caused by waterborne diseases."

Source: Australian High Commission Press Release