Kiwis bring life-changing water to Vanuatu

Kiwis bring life-changing water to Vanuatu

It's hard to imagine not having running water in your house – no tap for a glass of water, no shower, no bath, no basin to wash your hands and no flush toilet.

But for almost 700 million people around the world, including some of our closest Pacific neighbours, this is their daily reality.

Being World Water Week, Story wants to show it doesn't have to be this way. It's Kiwi generosity and ingenuity that's making the difference, with a life-changing water project in Vanuatu.

Philanthropist Gareth Morgan is opening a pump that will end the torturous, time-consuming chore of trekking for water in Vanuatu villages.

"It's my great privilege to turn the tap on, and let's hope the village gets water for every year into the future," says Dr Morgan.

The pump is part of the Water for Life project, which will see 31 pumps bring water to 5000 people across Tanna in Vanuatu.

The project is funded by UNICEF and New Zealand Aid, but it was the knowhow of Hawke's Bay engineer Adam Pearse that made it possible.

"Basically the water flows down the pipe, which we've collected in the dam up further, and then the pulse valve closes and it causes a water hammer effect – just like in the old days you used to turn off the tap at home – and it goes clunk in the pipe. That would create water pressure," says Mr Pearse.

"So it's a very simple but very effective way of pumping water that doesn't cost anything. There's no electricity. There's no fuel. It's just running off water itself."

The system will pump 2500 litres of water into tanks in the middle of the village every 24 hours.

"It's not so much what [the villagers] say; it's the raw emotion that comes out of them. It makes me cry. It's just amazing," says Mr Pearse.

"I think they feel overjoyed," says village resident Madeleine Iahlu. "They have more time to spend with their family. They have more time to do other business to earn money for the children."

She says the extra time also means more girls will go to school, while the extra water means increased hygiene and fewer diseases and diarrhoea, all from one simple pump.