Planning for climate-resilient urban WASH in Pacific Islands


Blue background with white text stating, 'Innovation & Impact


International WaterCentre at Griffith University

Partnering with: The University of the South Pacific, Solomon Islands National University and Urban Analytics and Complex Systems

Innovation and Impact projects are contributing to ongoing research and development in Water for Women as a way of strengthening the use of new evidence, innovation and practice for inclusive, sustainable and resilient WASH.


Water for Women is partnering with the International WaterCentre at Griffith University (IWC) through existing research projects across the Pacific. This research, along with other research findings, has indicated that access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in urban and peri-urban informal settlements across Melanesia is broadly inadequate. Additionally, there is little evidence that the WASH service delivery that does exist for urban and peri-urban informal settlement is future-proof. They are not planned with resilience to shocks and change in mind, such as climate change or the needs of changing populations within water catchments.


This Innovation and Impact project is exploring contextually-relevant processes that enable urban WASH planning that improves service delivery models, by making them more resilient to climate change and future population changes. It is combining bottom-up and top-down perspectives and information, and importantly, linking to broader catchment-scale land use.


The research is building on recent work integrating spatial analyses of climate and other environmental factors to identifying appropriate and resilient WASH services in informal settlements across Melanesia.


The exploratory research is being conducted in urban areas of Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, all of which have large informal urban and peri-urban settlements, as well as designated areas of new urban growth.


Working with The University of the South Pacific and Solomon Islands
National University, this research is combining different types of information, including community photo voice data, to spatially characterise existing and potential WASH service delivery models and their resilience, in settlements and associated markets, and, exploring how such geographical visualisation and mapping can be used in collaborative WASH planning processes by governments with their stakeholders.



Common to all four countries is the goal to explore participatory processes that combine mixed data using spatial systems to inform climate resilient planning. However, research activities and outcomes will be country specific, recognising the exploratory and scoping nature of the research and the contextual diversity across countries and in urban informal settlements.


The project includes four key components:

1. Integrated and collaborative planning information and processes to better understand how urban planning for future and existing formal and informal settlements occurs in each country (all four countries).

2. Characterising existing WASH service models and their resilience, including assessments of climate resilience (Vanuatu, Fiji).

3. Exploring the integration of existing information to support planning (Vanuatu, Fiji).

4. Identifying integrated and collaborative planning processes, including opportunities within existing systems to pursue WASH planning that is collaborative and considers climate resilience, future populations, and catchment links (all four countries).

This research is developing recommendations for integrated and collaborative planning processes for climate-resilient WASH in marginalised urban environments. This extends the impact of past research by scaling up evidence on opportunities for contextually relevant processes that could be used in Pacific countries to integrate resilient WASH service delivery into urban and catchment planning.

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The Australian aid program is investing in innovation and learning to deepen impact throughout Asia and the Pacific through the Innovation and Impact grants. By supporting partners to further their innovation and impact, we can not only improve WASH outcomes in this region, but also contribute to improved WASH policy and practice globally. Water for Women is proud to be partnering with the International WaterCentre at Griffith University, The University of the South Pacific, Solomon Islands National University and Urban Analytics and Complex Systems in the Pacific.


Header photo: Honiara central market, Solomon Islands
IWC / Regina Souter

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