February 28, 2017

Water tanks for Wabumari


It may seem odd that rainforests – famously wet places – should suffer from drought. But each year the effects of El Nino are more severe, the rains come later, and uncontaminated, fresh water is impossible to find. In December 2015, our partners in Papua New Guinea were hit with the worst drought in a generation.

“Drought here in Gadaisu is becoming worse every day. When worse come to worse the community will starve. Food gardens are drying up and the community have no choice but getting water from nearby villages by outboard motor.”

Wicky Isaac, Gadaisu village, Papua New Guinea

Thanks to the generosity of Cool Earth’s supporters, we were able to respond straight away and provide emergency assistance to the families in our Yakolima partnership. But in the longer term, the community want to make sure they don’t have to rely on our help.

Until now, only three houses in Gadaisu village had small water tanks for household use. There was also one at the school, but during drought, it was quickly emptied. In the remote Wabumari village, there was just one small tank for 69 families. That’s why the community associations decided to invest some of the funds they received from Cool Earth in eight huge water tanks. In the rainy season, these will fill up with the freshest rainforest water imaginable. And in times of drought, they’ll have a plentiful supply.

On our latest visit to Papua New Guinea, we arrived at Wabumari village by boat at the same time as the first three water tanks. It was lucky timing as the boat carrying the tanks had missed Wabumari’s small cove and were heading up the coast. After calling them back we helped guide the tanks to shore. The community were all there to help. And the relief of not having to worry about a clean water source was felt by all.

“Everyone is happy about the water tanks. It is the first time we will have clean water. We do really appreciate it. I don’t know how to express it. Throughout the years encountering water-borne diseases. Now, these tanks will relieve the diseases. I really don’t know how to express it.”

Frazer Halaba, Treasurer of Wabumari association

The next step is to get taps, cement, and roofing to install the taps. Luckily Basil, a member of the community association, is a plumber by trade so he’s taking charge. The tanks are a big step forward in making sure the Orangerie Bay community are strong and able to defend their forest for the future.

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