WASH Voices for Empowerment Phase 2 (WAVE 2) 

Water for Women partners with World Vision and partners to deliver WAVE 2– WASH Voices for Empowerment Phase 2 Papua New Guinea to support improved health, gender equality and well-being for 30,000* people living in South and Middle Fly through climate-resilient inclusive WASH services and systems.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the world's third largest island country, and the largest and most populous Pacific Island nation. It is also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, ranked 9th most at risk to climate change and natural hazards by the 2021 World Risk Index. PNG is vulnerable to several hazards, including floods, droughts, earthquakes, volcanic activity, tsunamis, and sea-level rise.[1]

PNG is ranked 156 out of 182 countries for vulnerability and readiness to successfully adapt to climate change,[2] and is one of only 10 countries globally where 20%* of the population has access to just a basic standard of sanitation.[3]

The majority of PNG’s more than nine million people live in rural areas, some of which are extremely remote and difficult to access. Almost one-third of the population lives within 10km of the coastline, with 8% (over 700,000 people) living within 1km.[4] The seas around PNG are projected to rise between 8-17cm by 2030 (above global average rates), increasing the potential impact of storm surges and coastal flooding.

According to the UN’s Joint Monitoring Program 2023 update,[5] an estimated 44% of the population has only basic access to water and around 76% either uses unimproved sanitation or practices open defecation.[6]

Ngariawang Community in PNG, a rural location with high mountains, a valley and river in the background and community facilities and palm trees in the foreground

Ngariawang, a remote community in Leron Wantoat, was recently declared an Open Defecation free community through tireless efforts by the WASH Club community in ensuring all requirements of ODF are met with the help of World Vision

Climate-related risks to water, sanitation and hygiene


Significant disparities in WASH access exist between urban and rural areas.[7] Climate change intensifies inequalities and disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in communities, including women and girls, people with disabilities[8] and from minority and marginalised groups.

Increasing dry periods, drought and salt-water intrusion result in a lack of water for daily consumption and to meet people’s WASH needs.

Many areas of PNG experience flooding during the monsoons. Flooding poses direct threats to WASH, when high levels of open defecation and dysfunctional or damaged pit latrines lead to contamination of water sources, causing life-threatening diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera

WASH facilities are highly susceptible to damage and destruction caused by extreme weather events and disasters, with those most vulnerable also the worst affected, including people with disabilities and from minority and marginalised communities.


In Middle Fly and South Fly districts, and throughout PNG, climate change is exacerbating the severity and frequency of climatic events which create serious impacts on communities. Annually, both districts face a six-month dry season that brings water security challenges, and a six-month rainy season when flooding is common. Changes in temperature and rainfall caused by climate change decrease water security through drought and saltwater intrusion and increase the frequency and severity of flooding.


Both districts rely on rainwater, a safe source of water, but one which does not provide year-round access. Climate-resilient water infrastructure is rare. To cope with water shortages, some communities use local knowledge of alternative water sources to meet their water needs, however these sources are often of poorer quality and further away. In South Fly, 79% of people reported that their drinking-water supply failed to meet their year-round needs, and that the use of water restrictions and unsafe brackish and swamp water strategies were employed during this time to manage shortages.


Women and children face an increased burden, protection risks and interruption of schooling as they are forced to travel further to collect water during periods of water scarcity caused by drought or salt-water intrusion. A lack of water for daily use also impacts watering of garden crops — the main source of income for women and household nutrition.


In the targeted areas, 44% of households still practice open defecation, which pollutes environments, contaminates waterways and poses serious threats to community health and well-being. Due to their location, the limited number of pit latrines are commonly damaged by climatic events, reducing the incentive to invest in sanitation facilities and adding another challenge to reducing open defecation. And illness due to water-borne diseases also increases the care responsibilities of women, further impacting their agency.


People with disability face additional barriers to accessing safe WASH services, particularly during climatic events, with limited mobility impacting access to services, to evacuate, and therefore, their safety and security.


A map of PNG with Western Province highlighted


“My days of water shortage and sanitation problems for Awaba hospital are things of the past as we are actively practicing water, sanitation, and hygiene in the healthcare facility after the full implementation of the WASH FIT by World Vision under the WFW WAVE project funded by the Australian Government.”

Maureen Damela, Officer in Charge of Awaba Healthcare Facility, Western Provincial Health Authority




WASH Voices for Empowerment Phase 2 is being delivered to improve health, gender equality and well-being in South and Middle Fly through climate-resilient inclusive WASH.


Building on World Vision’s Water for Women project, WASH Voices for Empowerment (WAVE), completed in 2022, from 2023 to 2024 this project will strengthen district government WASH capacity and systems in Middle and South Fly — with a focus on gender equality, disability and social inclusion — and build climate resilience. New evidence and learning on climate-resilient inclusive WASH generated through the project will be promoted to help strengthen systems and promote good WASH practices and norms change widely. Communities will also be supported to build and sustain climate-resilient WASH infrastructure and manage water resources.


From 2023-2024 this project aims to deliver lasting impact through:

  • Strengthened District WASH capacity and systems with a focus on gender, social inclusion and climate resilience
  • Increased provision and uptake of sustainable and inclusive climate-resilient WASH
  • Strengthened gender equality and social inclusion in Middle and South Fly, which supports climate-resilient WASH
  • Generation and promotion of new evidence and learning on climate-resilient inclusive WASH, supporting widespread and lasting benefit.
A picture of a smiling PNG woman - Belinda - Belinda is a survivor, a toilet-maker and a changemaker!

Belinda is a survivor, a toilet-maker and a changemaker! Belinda's efforts in promoting and practicing safe WASH are not only transforming the health and well-being of her family, but also her community in Daru, PNG. View photo updates from all of our Papua New Guinea projects 

An orange graphic with the words 'Latest from project'
Two women walking through jungle in PNG, smiling at camera on the thumbnail cover of a country summary

This project is an extension of WASH Voices for Empowerment (WAVE) delivered from 2018 - 2022.

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“[This project] has economically impacted most mothers in South Fly as it approached us with more capacity-building workshops such as financial literacy and economic empowerment, so we can now make money by sewing facemasks and selling. 4,000 women sell reusable facemasks for K5 now and I am more than satisfied to see the outcome of the project implemented by World Vision and its donor partner, the Australian Government.”

Daiu Gairi, President of Western Provincial Counsel of Women


WASH-related climate challenges for this project

  • 47.8% of Middle Fly households and 37.2% in South Fly depend on rainwater, which is becoming increasingly unreliable.
  • Severe and extended drought causes rainwater to run dry and a dependence on unsafe drinking water sources.
  • During king-tides and floods, wells and boreholes get contaminated and pit-toilets overflow.
  • When flooding occurs, the high levels of open defecation exacerbate community health risks.
  • In both districts there is limited government knowledge, capacity and resources to plan, prepare and respond to the impacts of climatic events on WASH services and infrastructure.
  • Local-level community WASH structures also have limited capacity and finance.



A young student washes their hands using a tippy tap at school in Dimiri. With support from World Vision through their Water for Women project, the community was introduced to the Healthy Islands concept and community-led total sanitation, known as CLTS, resulting in almost 100% of households, the school and medical aid post now having toilets and handwashing facilities (World Vision PNG)




WASH Voices for Empowerment Phase 2 aims to reach the following beneficiaries by the end of 2024:

Direct beneficiaries: 30,000*

  • women: 10,500
  • men: 10,500
  • children: 9,000
  • people with a disability: 3,000

 Indirect beneficiaries: 49,000*



water for women logo

World Vision Logo

PNG Aus Partnership
Callan Services
PNG Assembly of Disable Persons Inc

The Australian development assistance program is investing in Papua New Guinea to achieve these outcomes. Water for Women is proud to be partnering with World Vision and partners, District Council of Women, Callan Services, PNG Assembly of Disabled Persons and District Government Agencies in Middle and South Fly districts to achieve these outcomes.


Feature photo: Colour coded waste bins being used in Dimiri Aid post, Western Province, PNG (World Vision PNG)


*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.



[1] World Bank Group, Papua New Guinea - Vulnerability, Climate Change Knowledge Portal (website), n.d., accessed May 2023.

[2] Sanitation and Water for All, Country Overview - Papua New Guinea, SWA (website), n.d., accessed May 2023. 

[3] WHO/UNICEF, Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2022: Special focus on gender, WHO/UNICEF JMP, July 2023.
*(= or <) 20% of the population.

[4] Pacific Community, Mapping (Coastal), Statistics for Development Division (website), n.d., accessed May 2023.

[6] WHO/UNICEF, Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2022: Special focus on gender.

[7] Approximately 87% of the urban population has at least basic water access, compared to 49% in rural areas; around 49% of the urban population has at least basic sanitation, compared to only 15% in rural areas: Joint Monitoring Program 2023 update.

[8] Disability prevalence in PNG is 13.4 % according to the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership, Pacific Risk Profile – PNG, July 2021.

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