Otago Polytechnic
Paama water security

Flushed with success

A team of Civil Engineering students has answered the call of a Vanuatuan community in need.

In September 2018, ten Otago Polytechnic students and four staff members headed off to the small island of Paama, where they worked on a variety of water and sanitation projects. Paama, one of the smaller of the 83 islands that comprise the nation of Vanuatu, is a 40-minute flight north of the capital, Port Vila.

The Otago Polytechnic students spent 10 days on Paama, in the village of Liro, where they integrated their classroom-based projects and academic theory with important practical, real-world experience. Specifically aimed at students who have completed Civil Engineering programmes in Water and Waste Systems and Water and Waste Management, the projects included:

  • building a toilet block 
  • creating a sanitation field for effluent disposal
  • repairing existing water tanks
  • installing new water tanks
  • installing pipes to gather water from rooftops

Most homes in Liro village have no electricity so the team also delivered solar powered lights to the community.

The project comes on the back of work done by Dunedin’s Highgate Presbyterian Church, which has helped improve infrastructure on the island. The Otago Polytechnic group is also focusing on developing long-term sustainable solutions, transferring its knowledge and skills to locals as part of a future-focused strategy aimed at building capacity and expertise in the South Pacific. 

January 2019