Micronesia Secures Assistance to Provide Steady and Safe Water Supply

News Release | 10 September 2008

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are laying the groundwork for secure and safe water supply to residents of the capital of Chuuk, one of four of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction is extending a $980,000 grant for the project, to be managed by FSM's Department of Transport, Communications and Infrastructure. The grant will support water demand forecasts for Weno Island up to 2020, identification of potential water sources to meet long-term demand, and a tariff study and survey to gauge the willingness of residents to pay for efficient water service.

The project will also increase the supply of water from groundwater sources; improve water quality through chlorination, reducing the incidence of waterborne diseases; train personnel in maintaining water supply wells; and boost community awareness of the need to conserve water and protect watersheds.

"On Weno Island, most residents have limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation, particularly the poor. Access to safe water and sanitation facilities is essential to promote good health and alleviate poverty," said Stephen Blaik, Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist of ADB's Pacific Department.

Through the water conservation component of the project, the average per capita demand for piped water is expected to decline from a current 400 liters daily to less than 200 liters two years from now. Water production should also rise from 3.6 million liters daily to about 5.8 million by 2010. This will fulfill about 85% of average daily demand.

A 2005 survey by Micronesia's government estimated that over 59% of poor households in Chuuk State relied on individual wells for household water. On Weno Island, the reliance of the poor on individual wells is partly due to frequent and lengthy disruptions of water supply owing to lack of funds. The introduction of water tariffs will pave the way for full recovery of operation and maintenance costs by 2014, thus improving the sustainability of safe water supply.

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a grouping of 607 small islands in the Western Pacific about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, lying just above the Equator.