Tuvalu celebrates World Water Day
The theme for the 2021 World Water Day is ‘Valuing water’ and asks the question ‘What does clean water mean to you?’ This year’s theme not only inspired the Government of Tuvalu to expand their awareness raising campaigns on the importance of clean water, but it was also an opportunity to reinforce the discussions on one of the country’s priority issues – water security.
Although World Water Day is commemorated on 22nd March across the globe, Tuvalu celebrated the event on 6-7th April 2021 with the Climate Change Division coordinating the event. The first day of the event focused on a whole-of-nation outreach approach using the local television and radio stations to broadcast talk shows on the importance of clean water. The presenters of the talk shows included representatives from the departments responsible for Climate Change, Public Works, Health, Environment and the Meteorological Service.
The second day targeted the younger generations and focused on a program with the primary school students in Funafuti which included information sharing on water by the same five government departments followed by a quiz. The school program was supported by the European Union funded Global Climate Change Alliance Plus-Scaling Up Pacific Adaptation (GCCA+SUPA) project. An estimated 50 students participated in the school program.
“Water is life, it is our essence of existence. Water intertwines with our cultural and spiritual beliefs and our way of life”, said Alamoana Tofuola from the Climate Change Division in his presentation to the primary school students.
When the students were asked to share what clean water means to them, a number of students repeatedly stated: “Clean water means good health”. Diarrhoea outbreaks in infants are common and are largely associated to the lack of access to clean water or poor hygiene in the country.
The presentations covered various topics including water conservation, water treatment, monitoring and testing, catchment systems and maintenance. A water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) station and a demonstration of a rain gauge model was also part of the awareness activities.
Freshwater supply is scarce in Tuvalu, and the people are depended on rainwater and desalinated water for clean water. Water security is a priority issue identified by the Government of Tuvalu and the GCCA+SUPA project is supporting the government’s efforts to enhance water security through increasing freshwater supply, improving water quality and storage in schools and enhancing technical capacity on the maintenance of rainwater harvesting systems.
The GCCA+ SUPA project is about scaling up climate change adaptation measures in specific sectors supported by knowledge management and capacity building. The 4.5 year project (2019-2023) is funded with € 14.89 million from the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and The University of the South Pacific (USP), in collaboration with the governments and peoples of Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu.