It takes a village: how the Aruligo school community rallied to improve their water supply

A group of school girls in the Solomon Islands are laughing and smiling together against a wall of their school. They wear blue uniforms and look very happy

The students at Aruligo school are pretty happy with the changes at their school! When we all work together, great things can happen, with the help of Water for Women partners, Plan International and Live & Learn, Aruligo school mobilised students, community, government and the bank to drastically improve their water supply and management. This is especially important for future resilience because the school and community is located in one of the driest parts of Guadalcanal (Live & Learn Solomon Islands)


This is the story of Aruligo Seventh-day Adventist Primary School in Solomon Islands. Aruligo is located in some of the driest parts of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, and yet the school and surrounding community was dependent on rainwater alone.


The value of water is about much more than its price – water has enormous and complex value for our households, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource.


Improving water management practices in places that are particularly prone to the damaging impacts of climate change can help increase climate resilience, improve ecosystem health, and reduce the risk of water-related disasters.


Supported by the Australian Government, through Water for Women, our Solomon Islands partners, Live & Learn and Plan International worked with the school leadership to assess the water and sanitation services of the school against the Solomon Islands WASH National Standards. The school management used the formal report produced through the assessment to approach the Bank of South Pacific for a grant to get a borehole drilled and installation of a solar pump.


The school and surrounding community all played a role in making this infrastructure a reality - the school teachers, parents and students raised significant funds by selling food and drinks to supplement the grant from the bank.


The school now has the borehole and solar pump installed – which is being used to provide water to the school and is also benefitting the surrounding community. All now have access to drinking water and no longer have to carry water bottles, which is especially beneficial for the children who don’t live in communities close to the school.


The school has also been able to improve their toilets. The assessment report highlighted that the school was not meeting minimum standards for sanitation for teachers and students. The dry pit toilets were not enough to cater for the numbers enrolled in the school, so when the rainwater tanks were empty, the toilets would not work. The new borehole means that the students aged from four to 15 years are now able to fetch water close by to use in the toilets, regardless of the rainfall.


These changes have created significant improvements for Aruligo School and the nearby community. Support from Plan and Live & Learn through the Water for Women project, New Times, New Targets provided the catalyst for the school administration to push for improvements to the school's WASH facilities. The formal report on the challenges faced by the school in providing adequate WASH services provided the supporting evidence and clear documentation with which to approach external donors. Having the support of the community itself was another motivating factor for all involved.


The success of this project has had a major positive impact on the attitude of teachers and staff involved. Now they are driven to make further improvements, especially as the school will expand soon to become a high school. There is also a clearer understanding of the importance of independent assessments like the WASH report, and the importance of having an active WASH in Schools program – especially since the onset of COVID-19. The pandemic has reminded us all of the importance of access to safe water for cleaning schools and washing hands with soap to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.


Improved water management is an essential component of successful hygiene practice, and climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.



This story and photos were created by Kylie Tovosia and Gilbert Pai, Live & Learn Solomon Islands, original story published here. This version has been edited by Water for Women.


The value of water is about much more than its price – in communities, households, schools and workplaces, water means health, hygiene, dignity, productivity and more.


Throughout March, for International Women's Day and World Water Day, we are celebrating the value of women and the value of water. Both are critical to building healthy and climate-resilient communities. 


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