Resilient WASH in the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea

Water for Women partners with Plan International and Live and Learn in supporting local government in Kavieng District, New Ireland Province and Northern Region, Autonomous Region of Bougainville to deliver safe, secure, sustainable and inclusive WASH services for communities.


Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) current water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) indicators are among the lowest in the world. 

Access to basic level sanitation services is 8% in rural PNG and 48% in urban areas.

Access to basic level water services is 35% in rural PNG and 86% in urban areas.

Low access to WASH is reflected in PNG's ranking at the bottom of Pacific countries for all WASH-related health statistics.


In light of this, a National WASH Policy (2015-2030) provides clear guidance for the sector and sets contextually ambitious national WASH targets for water supply and sanitation in PNG:

  • access for 70% of the rural population,
  • access for 95% (water) and 85% (sanitation) for urban populations, and
  • 100% access for educational institutions and medical centres.

Complementing the National WASH Policy is the recently launched national policy and accompanying standards for WASH in Schools, which are to apply to all schools in PNG. 

Papua New Guinea also ranks poorly in regards to gender equality and social inclusion (GESI).

Women’s representation in decision-making and leadership positons is limited across all levels in PNG, and there are strong cultural and social gender norms that mean that men are seen as the main decision makers.



Water for Women is partnering with Plan International Australia and Live and Learn Environmental Education to deliver Resilient WASH in the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea.

The project aims to improve the health and wellbeing of rural people by increasing the quality and accessibility of resilient WASH services in rural schools, Health Care Facilities and communities and by strengthening WASH sector systems.

The Project will seek improved gender and social inclusion in rural areas, and contribute to an enhanced evidence base relating to GESI and WASH. 

Papua New Guinea map

In New Ireland, the Project will work in Wards, schools, and Health Care Facilities across the province’s two districts (Kavieng and Namatani).

In Bougainville activities will focus on the Northern Region where the Project will operate in Wards and model approaches to WASH improvements in schools and Health Care Facilities.


The Project will align with national and sub-national government WASH sector and other development policies and plans, and take an ‘assess, plan, act, monitor’ cycle with communities, institutions and government to implement a ‘WASH Resilience Planning’ approach founded on risk-based approaches to water and sanitation improvements.


 A water and WASH response is a COVID-19 response


In 2020, the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene was underscored as the globe grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. With support from Australia's Partnerships for Recovery, our partners pivoted their projects and worked collaboratively to support countries in their COVID-19 responses and to embed COVID-19 preparedness into their WASH projects.

Water for Women COVID responses through WaterAid, Plan and World Vision have benefitted an estimated 485,000 people.

In ARoB, Plan extended into 10 schools (reaching 3,000 students) and 3 health facilities (reaching 11,725 users), using 'cash for work' schemes. Plan and partners also collaborated with Bougainville Women's Association to train women in hygiene messaging, constructing household hand washing facilities and producing cloth facemasks. In New Ireland, Live and Learn conducted community plumbers training for 300 participants (60 female) in skills to construct low-tech WASH solutions.

Australia continues to support COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery activities across the Indo-Pacific region to secure our region's health, wellbeing and stability in these challenging times.

An unprecedented crisis requires a coordinated response. Through our water resources management and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects, we are not only delivering safe, equitable and sustainable water and WASH, we are also building healthy, inclusive and resilient societies. We're supporting individuals, communities and countries to endure, and recover from, the COVID-19 crisis as well as to future extreme events and natural disasters. 

Water for Women logo
Plan International Logo
Live & learn logo
Aus-PNG Partnership logo


*Project targets are based on partner Civil Society Organisations (CSO) baseline studies. Project targets are updated periodically in response to changes in context as appropriate. To see our latest progress towards targets, see our progress.


Photo: Plan International / Tom Franks

Contact Us