Displaced Papua New Guinea Communities Receive Safe Drinking Water from UN Migration Agency

Humanitarian Emergencies, Migration and Climate Change, Migration and Environment

Port Moresby – Oro Province in Papua New Guinea is prone to natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions, cyclones and flooding, which have led to displacement, destruction of property and even death. The disasters have increased the vulnerability of communities, limiting their access to essential services, including safe drinking water.

This month, the UN Migration Agency (IOM), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), responded by launching water supply projects in ten Oro wards impacted by Cyclone Guba nearly a decade ago and hit by subsequent natural disasters, including floods.

IOM is responding by establishing rainwater harvesting facilities and cisterns, which will provide safe drinking water for at least 1,900 households in Tabara, Katuna, Bakubari, Gona, Killerton, Buna, Ononda, Eroro, Ahora Beuru and Horau-Huhuru.

“Identified as such during a community-based disaster risk management process organized by IOM, safe drinking water is the top priority among our projects, and it is essential for reducing health risks and preventing disease outbreaks,” said Lance Bonneau, IOM Papua New Guinea Chief of Mission.

In the past, women and girls would usually carry drinking water from rivers and unprotected wells. “My family used to get our water from shallow wells. But it was always brackish. We can now get clean (rain) water from the tanks supplied by IOM,” said a Katuna resident.

Community members worked with IOM engineers to set up the tanks. “We committed ourselves to be part of what IOM is doing in our community. We collected wood, sand and stones for the construction of our water points,” said a villager from Bakubari.

“It is important that beneficiary communities take ownership of disaster risk management projects and community development planning. Disasters are indiscriminate in both timing and scale but, whatever or whenever the event, the community will have to provide the frontline response to minimize the impact and save lives,” said Bonneau.

The water supply system was commissioned in the Oro coastal town of Killerton at a ceremony attended by representatives of the Provincial Disaster Office, district and local government authorities and media. Steven Awoda, on behalf of the Government, thanked IOM and members of the community for their commitment to the project.

For more information, please contact Peter Murorera at IOM Port Moresby, Tel: +675 7940 1090, Email: pmurorera@iom.int


  • Oro villagers gather around new water tanks supplied by the project. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017