Enhancing Resilience to Climate Change Through Solar Power-driven Access to Water in Rural Areas of Outer Islands, Vanuatu

At a Glance

Start Date Q1 2019
Funding Source Partner
Approved Budget USD 1 785 495
Status Active
Thematic Area
  • Water and Sanitation
Eva Diaz Ugena

Program Lead (Vanuatu)

Project Rationale

Vanuatu, classified as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), has a national population of just under 300,000, with the majority of the population living in rural, remote communities spread across 65 inhabited islands from the 83 that make up the Vanuatu archipelago in the South Pacific.

Vanuatu, a GGGI Member country since 2014, signed a five-year Country Planning Framework (CPF) with GGGI in 2017 which included an outcome for sustainable energy services to power rural livelihood creation and economic growth in the agriculture, tourism and fisheries sectors, including renewable energy for improved water services.

Rural communities in the outer islands of Vanuatu depend on rainwater, hand-pumps and in few cases expensive diesel water pumping for their water supply to meet their basic needs. These sources of water however are adversely affected by drought, particularly when there is no rain for up to several weeks. While using diesel-fueled water pumps is not possible when fuel is not available or too expensive to buy. The water stored in rainwater harvesting tanks then needs to be rationed. A number of Vanuatu’s Islands have declared water ‘emergencies’ in recent years and most recently, January 2020, a water emergency has been declared in the north area of Efate and Aniwa islands.

Project Objectives

Through the collaboration between the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Vanuatu Department of Water Resources (DoWR) and the Department of Energy (DoE), and with funding by the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, this project sets out to implement sustainable solar powered water systems in several rural communities, including switching from diesel to solar water pumping for water supply for some of the larger communities. The project envisages to provide a reliable source of fresh water in communities on the outer islands that are predominantly dependent on unhygienic and unreliable sources for water.

Moreover, this projects also focuses on helping to establish the enabling environment that would ensure financial and operational sustainability of the solar powered water systems and enhance the replication of this technology in other communities. The main stakeholders including the targeted rural communities, the Department of Water Resources (DoWR), local authorities and the equipment suppliers will be supported and provided training to strengthen organization and logistics, improve connections, communications and networks between institutions, communities and private suppliers and enable proper operation and maintenance of the solar water pumping infrastructure.

Therefore, the overall project objective is to increase resilience in rural Ni-Vanuatu village communities to cope with future climate change consequences such as severe droughts and tropical cyclones through implementation of solar powered water pumps and strengthening of the institutional environment for management of solar water pumping systems and water resources.

The project aligns with GGGI’s strategic outcome and the Government of Vanuatu’s objectives to enhance adaptive capacity of communities, through access to reliable, safe, potable water. The project will directly support approximately 7,500 people to cope with climate change induced impacts such as more frequent and/or more severe droughts and disaster events. The project also aligns with GGGI’s energy thematic area and the Government of Vanuatu’s energy access and renewable energy goals as laid out in the National Energy Road Map, to increase the use of renewables and minimize greenhouse gas emissions as well as improving access to energy and water in rural areas.

Activities so far

All activities have been undertaken in close collaboration with the DoWR with inputs also provided by the Department of Energy (DoE) on energy aspects. Activities completed so far are:

  • Targeted sites were selected and confirmed in cooperation with the DoWR, according to its vulnerability rank and considering budget and logistics constrains.
  • A Baseline study was carried out
  • A detailed Systems design was carried out, including technical specifications.
  • Launching of the supply and installation tender for the Solar Powered Water Systems.
  • Launching of a financial sustainability study for small rural communities and urban-like ones.
  • Definition of the training needs.

Planned activities for 2020

  • Supply, installation and commissioning of the solar water powered systems.
  • Setting up a reliable and affordable after-sales services.
  • Community and government officials training on basic maintenance and operation of solar powered water systems
  • Finalization of the financial sustainability study.
  • Development of national standards/guidelines for solar water powered systems in rural contexts.
  • Knowledge sharing in Vanuatu and the Pacific region.



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