In Ebeye - Clean, Running Water is a Lifesaver

Video | 26 March 2020

Ebeye is one of the most densely populated locations on earth and without clean, running water, water-borne diseases have been an ever-present threat. But, thanks to investment from the U.S., Australia, the Marshall Islands, and the Asian Development Bank, a new water and sewage plant with capacity for 650,000 litres of clean drinking water each day is helping to make people here healthier and safer.

Transcript

This is a new sound and a new way of life for the people of Ebeye—clean, healthy water.

Ebeye is the most densely populated island in the Marshall Islands and had never before had clean, running water—until now.

The water comes from here—a state-of-the-art water treatment and sewage plant providing up to 430-thousand gallons of quality drinking water to the people of ebeye every day.

Romeo Alfred, Former Manager

It is better than water that is harvested, rainwater harvested, and I can confidently say that it is also better than the water that we have at the military base.

For decades, that’s where most people here found their water—the U.S. military base on Kwajalein Atoll a 30-minute ferry away.

But the new water plant isn’t just about convenience—it’s about health and safety.

Ebeye has dangerously high levels of water-borne diseases, but medical experts are seeing a reduction in strains such as diarrhea.

Dr. Cho Cho Thien, Ebeye Hospital Medical Director

We are not seeing like in the year 2016/15, we had plenty of diarrhea cases. Now, that diarrhea load is going down.

Dr. Thien says the long-term health impacts of the water plant will be immense.

Dr. Cho Cho Thien, Ebeye Hospital Medical Director

Water is very, very important here because water is our life here. It was a very hard time when we started work here, we could not get water on the island so we would have to go to Kwaj and fetch the water and it was a problem. Now we don’t have much of a problem. We always see people fetching the water all the time, day in and day out. I think it’s very helpful.

Steve Savage, US Department of Interior

It was very critical that the people of Ebeye had access to safe drinking water. And in order to have a healthy … populace, the most critical component of that is access to safe drinking water which simply did not exist before this project took place.

The plant was jointly funded by the Asian Development Bank, and the governments of the Marshall Islands, Australia, and the United States.

Steve Savage, Department of Interior

I just think it was a good partnership from the beginning and hopefully something we can build upon in the future because without this type of collaborative effort, I don’t think one donor would have been able to step up solely and fund a project of this magnitude. So this project, I think it really helped open a lot of eyes throughout the entire region on what can be done when everyone is working together.

Eventually, the plant will be hooked up to Ebeye’s water grid—meaning clean, reliable water can flow from household taps across the island.

For now though, safe, clean water continues to flow here.

And there’s enough for everyone.