PaCWaM+ Vanuatu – strengthening drinking water safety and security planning in Vanuatu


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International WaterCentre at Griffith University

Partnering with: The University of the South Pacific and the Vanuatu Department of Water Resources

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 for the Pacific Island Community Water Management Plus (PaCWaM+) research project exploring how civil society organisations and governments can better enable rural community-based-water-management in the Pacific.


Drinking water safety and security planning (DWSSP) is the Government of Vanuatu’s preferred approach to building community capacity to ensure safe and secure water, and is implemented by both government and civil society organisations (CSOs).


Through the PaCWaM+ project in Fiji and Solomon Islands, insights have been gained into the kinds of support required by communities to strengthen community water management outcomes, and new approaches developed for governments and CSOs to implement alongside existing approaches.


This Innovation and Impact project is piloting and evaluating some modifications to Vanuatu’s DWSSP, drawing on the PaCWaM+ project lessons and experience. This is timely, as the Department of Water Resources (DoWR) has made some modifications to the DWSSP and is planning another review. They have expressed a keen interest to learn lessons from the PaCWaM+ activities in Fiji and Solomon Islands.


In the current Vanuatu DWSSP minimal attention is paid to social factors, in particular, those affecting the sustainability of the water management group, and the way the committee works with the wider community.



This project seeks to share and apply key lessons from the PaCWaM+ research project to the Vanuatu DWSSP process through targeted, complementary activities. An improved DWSSP will contribute to the economic and health security of Vanuatu’s rural populations.


The PaCWaM+ project identified a range of challenges that communities in Fiji and Solomon Islands face in ensuring safe, resilient and sustainable water for all. Based on the limited literature, a review of the current  Vanuatu DWSSP guide, and discussions with WASH actors within Vanuatu, many of the challenges identified in Solomon Islands and Fiji are also found in Vanuatu. Development of a DWSSP+ PaCWaM approach for Vanuatu provides opportunities to address three key community water management challenges:

1. The strongest levels of social cohesion and agency are often found at zone/area levels and tribes/families rather than at the community-wide level.

2. Water committees come-and-go, shrink-and-expand, often failing within a year or two of establishment.

3. Collective action is required but not always achieved. All water users – everyone in the community, not just the community water management group – have a responsibility to operate and manage the water system.


Together with the DoWR and other local WASH actors, this Innovation and Impact project will ground-truth the above challenges in the Vanuatu context, localise the activities accordingly and trial them. This will be coupled with
action research and monitoring and evaluation to assess the validity and effectiveness of a number of discrete, ‘add-on’ community water management activities to the existing DWSSP process, for potential adoption.


This Innovation and Impact project leverages the PaCWaM+ project research by extending its impact in a focused way, to a contextually similar setting, thereby contributing to WASH systems strengthening and evidence based policy and practice.

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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 International WaterCentre at Griffith University, The University of the South Pacific and the Vanuatu Department of Water Resources.


Header photo: House in Natapau village, Lelepa island, Shefa Province, Vanuatu 
IWC / Mark Love

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