Papua New Guinea WASH consortium

Water for Women’s Papua New Guinea WASH consortium, WaSH Em i Bikpela Samting (WEBS), comprises four civil society organisations – World Vision, WaterAid, Plan International Australia and Live & Learn Environmental Education. WaSH Em i Bikpela Samting translates from Tok Pisin to English as, ‘WASH is important.’


In 2015, the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) launched its National WASH Policy 2015-2030, which aims to accelerate the delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in PNG.


The policy outlines the challenge in PNG, where access to water and sanitation services is failing to keep pace with the increasing population. 

The disparity in access between rural and urban households is significant.


Only 33% of the rural population having access to improved water sources compared with 89% of the population in urban areas. 

For sanitation, just 13% of the rural population has improved access, compared with 57% of the urban population.1


Gender inequality is also a major development challenge in PNG, with a range of traditional and cultural factors preventing women from realising their rights and sharing equally in the benefits of development.


Since the release of the National WASH Policy, important developments include the release of a National Policy and Standards for WASH in Schools (2018-2023), the establishment of both national and sub-national WASH committees, and heightened awareness of the importance of WASH in general. However, while this progress demonstrates a strong commitment by the government to improve access to and sustainability of equitable WASH services, the ambitions set out in the National WASH Policy are yet to be realised within communities, with a recent review falling well short of an ambitious target to provide WASH services to an additional 6% of the population.


Many stakeholders acknowledge the opportunity to partner with international non-government organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs), and faith-based organisations (FBOs) to reach the national WASH policy targets. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the relevance and importance of access to WASH and provided momentum for combined efforts to achieve this. 

Launched in November 2021, the PNG WASH Consortium, or “WaSH Em i Bikpela Samting” (WEBS), demonstrates a new way of working, with individual CSOs partnering to leverage both bilateral cooperation between the governments of PNG and Australia, and technical expertise on the ground to expand existing Australian government support for WASH in PNG. WEB is a consortium comprising World Vision, WaterAid, Plan International Australia and Live & Learn Environmental Education.


WaSH Em i Bikpela Samting was formed to build on Water for Women’s experience in PNG to date, and through which increased investment in WASH can be delivered. Apart from the direct WASH outcomes that have been delivered by each of the consortium partners in their respective geographical locations, reaching an estimated 28,302* people, the value of the consortium as a whole also lies in the shared learning and combined strengths being contributed for the benefit of PNG nationally and the wider WASH sector globally.


The primary aim of WEBS was to deliver improved health outcomes through inclusive and equitable WASH access across PNG, through both mainstreamed and targeted interventions and systems strengthening in several geographical locations. From 2021 - 2022, the consortium worked to directly support improvements in WASH services in healthcare facilities (HCFs), schools and communities, and to influence broader WASH sector investments and finance. Strengthening systems at both national and local levels to sustainably support and continue to develop these WASH services has also been core to the consortium’s work.


With Water for Women’s support, the consortium has worked closely with communities, district and provincial authorities in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, National Capital District, Morobe Province and New Ireland Province to improve WASH service delivery. Collaboration with other Australian government-funded WASH programs in PNG, through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program and the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, has maximised and strengthened delivery of Australian government-funded WASH initiatives across PNG.  

 Regional map of Bhutan


The consortium also built on its relationships at national level within the PNG Government, including with the WASH Project Management Unit (PMU) of the Department of National Planning and Monitoring (DNPM) and the WASH Taskforce, as well as facilitating linkages between the WASH sector agencies and the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Education (DoE). The consortium also engaged with WASH stakeholders through the United Nations (UN) WASH cluster, led by UNICEF and World Vision. By working with these different actors in PNG the consortium has been able to support improved investment, planning, and monitoring of WASH services in PNG. 



This project had the following objectives:

  • To strengthen national and subnational WASH sector systems with greater emphasis on gender, social inclusion, safely managed WASH and water security, and
  • Support delivery of WASH services in target sectors and locations, such as   communities, schools and healthcare facilities, and increase local coordination to promote increased WASH access and sustainability of services.


The consortium is based on a collaborative governance model, with shared values at the core of its operation, including common purpose, respect, mutual accountability, and openness and transparency across and between the collaborating CSOs. All partners value highly the importance of establishing and sustaining a strong consortium and partnership.


WaSH Em i Bikpela Samting directly targeted WASH improvements from 2021 - 2022 through:

  1. Activities to strengthen the overall enabling environment for WASH in PNG, including championing inclusive WASH and sharing lessons learnt through the WEBS project and Water for Women widely with the PNG government and WASH sector stakeholders. 
  2. Improved District WASH planning and increased community access to WASH in the National Capital District, Morobe, New Ireland and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, with a focus on participation, inclusion and climate-change resilience.  This included models for access in peri-urban areas and public markets. 
  3. Improved WASH planning, management, practices, and facilities in schools, in partnership with sub-national government and school communities, for 20 schools in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, eight schools in New Ireland and 15 schools in Morobe.
  4. Integration of cross-cutting issues into hygiene messaging, including for COVID-19  prevention and response, gender equality, disability, and social inclusion (GEDSI), and climate-change resilience in WASH service delivery and systems.


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 across Papua New Guinea.

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. 



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Photo by Plan International/Tom Franks


1  PNG National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) Policy 2015-2030

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