The Department of Water, which represents the Vanuatu Government walked away with four awards, and UNELCO with one award at the recent Pacific Water and Wastewater Association (PWWA) Annual Conference and Expo in New Caledonia.
The event took place in the second week of August. It was attended by the Director of Department of Water, Ericson Sammy, Erie Samie and UNELCO’s Ghislain Kaltak.
Director of Water, Sammy conveyed that PWWA consisted of 22 countries with 29 Utilities which are categorized in three groups.
Group one are classified as big utilities such as UNELCO, group two are medium utilities like the Vanuatu Government and group three are small utilities which are the atoll island countries in the South Pacific.
“Some countries such Vanuatu have two utilities, that is why the number of utilities is 29,” he explained.
“The Vanuatu government is a new member and we proud of the achievement we made within a period of two years, since joining PWWA.
“Vanuatu was awarded for the Best Utility in Transitional group, Best Cost Recovery, Best Maintenance Performing Utility and Best Water Coverage — a total of four awards after the PWWA conference and Expo.”
‘We are very proud because we were the only utility to gain four awards, out of the other countries in the region.”
Sammy reiterated that the Vanuatu government and UNELCO will co-host the 2019 12th PWWA annual conference and Expo and the 5th Ministerial Forum.
“During a PWWA meet, we will have a Young Water Professional workshop, expo and ministerial forum. This is a big event and we are looking forward to hosting it,” he said.
UNELCO was awarded for the Best Technical Utility. On behalf of UNELCO, Public Relations Officer Alexia Courville said UNELCO and its water team are very proud and honored to have received this recognition by a panel of other utilities.
“This prize rewards a lot of hard work, good management practices, investment in equipment, and training of the teams,” she said.
“Our all ni-vanuatu water team is all the more deserving, that they have only 12 technical persons to serve more than 8500 customers in the greater Port Vila area.”
The PWWA conference was a great opportunity for UNELCO team to meet with other Pacific utilities, share experience and knowledge.
“Many of the challenges faced by relatively small insular networks are similar; which is what makes these events so important.Some of the interesting technologies that UNELCO is looking at following the PWWA conference are prepaid water meters, smart water meters, small scale chlorination for the new areas added to the concession, smarter leak detection.”
UNELCO has also won awards from the PWWA from other years.
Sammy said Vanuatu was also nominated to the Board of Directors of PWWA and it was a positive turnout.
“The purpose of this board is to strengthen performance of utilities and capacity building of PWWA to improve system,” he said.
“Vanuatu has similar water issues as other countries like Fiji, PNG and Solomon Islands and we only provide for main centers whereas rural areas are not included and not metered. The benefits we get from utilities under PWWA will assist us to improve our rural water system management and procurement.”
A task force will be established in the near future in preparation towards the 2019 PWWA in Vanuatu.
The PWWA is an annual event that has been commemorated since 1994 that brings together countries from the South Pacific. UNELCO was a member since the establishment of PWWA, the Department of Water joined in 2016.