Earthquake-Affected Community in Papua New Guinea Gets Access to Safe Drinking Water

Migration and Climate Change

Port Moresby – Soi - a remote community of 210 families in Nipa Rural district in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands province - was devastated by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that hit the area in February 2018.

Landslides triggered by the quake polluted the community’s traditional water sources and after the disaster villagers – mostly women and girls – had to walk for over an hour to collect water for household use from a nearby river. Girls were missing school because of this time-consuming chore.

A needs assessment carried out by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in April 2018 found that access to potable water was a top priority for the community, both in Soi and in other locations across the district.

Working with the Emergency Controller’s Office, Southern Highlands Provincial Administration, and the UN country team, IOM used a community-based approach to equip schools and health facilities with 17 rain water tanks benefiting 26,915 people in five communities, five health centres and five schools.

Community members worked together to install the rain-fed supply, with technical assistance from IOM. “Everyone took part in the construction. Mothers and young boys and girls prepared the ground and gathered stones and sand from the river,” said Soi resident Janet John. “Mothers cooked food for the builders and men mixed cement and did the construction work,” she added.

During a post assistance monitoring conducted by IOM in January in Soi, community members welcomed the changes brought about by the project.

“We used to collect water from the bush. This is my first time to get water from a tap,” said one Soi housewife. “I am very happy I no longer have to walk long distances to fetch water from the bush,” said another. “IOM has helped us to have better access to clean and safe water for drinking and we really appreciate their support,” said community leader Paul Tokam.

For more information please contact IOM Port Moresby. Tomoko Sato, Tel. +675 3213655, Email: or Peter Murorera, Email:

  • IOM staff, community members at the launch of the new water supply. Photo: IOM/Samike Gagee

  • Children collect water from the new water supply in Soi. Photo: IOM/Peter Murorera

  • Children collect water from the new water supply in Soi. Photo: IOM/Peter Murorera