Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

Murr Lagoon community receive rainwater harvesting units

Feature Story 01 May 2023

Murr Lagoon community receive rainwater harvesting units

Along the Oriomo River in Western Province’s South Fly district lies Murr village, a community of 300 people who have much to celebrate after the installation of rainwater harvesting units that will provide the community access to a clean and safe water supply.

Funded by the Australian Government through the Western Province Partnership’s Water Security Project, rainwater harvesting units are being set up in selected communities confirmed from the Hydrogeology survey and the District WASH committee as lacking groundwater sources. Murr was one of the villages identified as lacking groundwater sources and earmarked by the South Fly District WASH committee to receive rainwater harvesting units.

Each rainwater harvesting unit has four 9000-litre tanks and a catchment with concrete flooring. Murr community is receiving two units, one for the community and one for their local primary school.   The catchment can also be used as a shelter, a community hall, a marketplace or even an additional classroom when built at the school ground.

Murr Village is the farthest inland community in the Oriomo-Bituri Local Level Government. The construction of the rainwater harvesting units mobilised the community who worked with the contractors to install the first unit in the centre of the village. The second unit will be constructed at the primary school.

Access to clean and safe water is crucial for communities in the South Fly, both along the coast and inland. They often experience long dry seasons, resulting in critical water shortages that negatively impact the communities’ livelihoods and place health, food and water security at risk.  This vulnerability sometimes results in communities accessing water from unsafe sources, which can result in disease outbreaks.

“I want to see a decrease in health issues arising from my people consuming contaminated water. It has affected our livelihoods for far too long, and any help and infrastructure set up to improve our access to a safe water supply and help our women and children is a win for us all. My community has also taken ownership of this project, and we are keen to contribute towards its completion,” said Sevese Dimen, Ward Member and village Chairman for Murr.

“Accessing clean and safe water is a fundamental need for any community, especially for women, children, and the most vulnerable members of our community,” says Murr Village Chairman Sam Steven. 

“This new infrastructure provides easy access and lessens the time and effort to get to our current water sources and back with their water containers,” Mr Steven added.

After completing the installation of the rainwater harvesting units in Murr, other selected communities in the South Fly will also receive similar facilities this year.

Water insecurity is a significant challenge in the South Fly.  Current data indicates that more than 50% of communities in the area are using water that is unsafe to drink.  In one of the most extensive hydrogeological surveys carried out in PNG, Australia supported the South Fly District Development Authority to survey groundwater sources in the district.   A total of 45 communities were surveyed over 2021 – 2022. Twenty-seven of these communities were identified and selected by the District WASH Committee for further assessment by the Western Province Partnership team.

Australia and Papua New Guinea work in partnership to build and strengthen resilience to water-related disasters in the South Fly by supporting communities, including vulnerable people, to have more sustainable livelihoods, incomes, and food and water security.

For further information, including access to related materials, please contact the Australian High Commission media team: +675 7090 0100