The Improving WASH (IWASH) project in the Solomon Islands began in October 2011 to address the urgent water supply and sanitation needs following a period of civil unrest and collapse of its National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program (RWSS). At the time the IWASH proposal was written, rural areas in the Solomon Islands were estimated to have 65% access to "water supply coverage" with 50% of community water systems identified as non-functional or in need of repair. Rural sanitation was much less developed, with only 18% of households estimated to have access to sanitation. Only 50% of schools reported access to water with low latrine-to-student ratios, or an absence of latrines altogether.
To address the significant WASH challenges, the Solomon Island Government re-established the RWSS program, now called Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program (RWASH), and has been working to redevelop the WASH system in the country. It is within this context that UNICEF applied for and received European Funds (EU) to work towards the improvement of WASH in the Solomon Islands. Between October 2011 and September 2016, the IWASH project, with a budget of $2,570,087 was implemented. The original project was to end in September 2015; however, because start-up was delayed and following an external Mid-term Review (MTR) conducted in May 2015, the project received a one-year, no-cost extension. The extension also resulted in a reduced project scope from five to three provinces (Isabel, Makira and Temotu). Live & Learn Environmental Education worked with World Vision Solomon Islands to implement the project, together with RWASH.
The overall goal of the IWASH project was to “Accelerate delivery of sustainable health, economic and human development outcomes for rural communities in the Solomon Islands” with the outcomes of the project to achieve sustainable access to improved WASH services and to reduce diarrhoea-related disease in the targeted provinces. The project was composed of three components:
- Water: Improved water supply facilities among rural communities and schools with at least 80% improved water supply facilities serving 30 communities/12,000 persons and managed by functional water committees
- Sanitation: Improved use of sanitation facilities among the 30 rural communities through Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach and improved operational facilities used by the majority of students among 20 schools and hygiene promotion.
- Policy, Legislation and Capacity Building: Improved support of sector planners and managers in line with RWASH through policy development, legislation, and operation and maintenance (O&M) guidelines.
The project was particularly effective at improving access to "improved drinking water" in communities: exceeding its targeted by nine with 39 communities (5,000 people) now having access to improved drinking water sources. WASH in Schools efforts were generally also effective with 15 schools now having access to water and sanitation facilities. Also the project was engaged in strategies which strengthened the enabling environment specific to the development of national WASH policies for rural communities and draft guidelines for schools.