The Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) has completed the first phase of the hydrogeological surveys for the South Fly District of Western Province as part of the South Fly Resilience Plan (SFRP). The SFRP, supported by the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership aims to provide safe and reliable access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.
The surveys determine the best locations for boreholes to access groundwater by assessing water quality, quantity and speed of storage, as well as proximity to the communities. Boreholes are groundwater sources and are more reliable during dry seasons.
Nathan Mosusu, MRA Executive Manager - Geological Survey Division, said he was pleased to work with Australia to improve the lives of rural communities.
“Having been aware of the water and food security challenges in South Fly for many years, we are pleased to leverage partner support to work towards improving water access and livelihoods,” Mr Mosusu said.
While rain-water catchment is a common method of water access, villages in the South Fly District remain highly vulnerable to shocks, including water shortages. Disease outbreaks are common during droughts as communities are forced to use unsafe water sources.
The hydrogeological surveys were conducted in late 2021 covering more than 20 communities from Buzi in the west to Sui in the east and villages along the Oriomo and Pahoturi rivers in the Forecoast Kiwai and Oriomo-Bituri Local Level Governments of South Fly District.
Data collected from the surveys will provide an evidence base to guide cost effective, sustainable and climate resilient options for improving long term water security in South Fly.
The initial phase of the survey had success in identifying potential water sources. MRA will produce a report which will provide recommendations on the ideal siting of boreholes, including advice on the drilling method to be used at each location and the capacity of the aquifers.
“Our maps will provide the district and communities with guidance on the location of viable aquifers and the ideal sites for drilling and installation of pumps,” said Nathan Mosusu.
Improved access to water and a more reliable water supply during the dry season and drought events is one of the key priorities of SFRP. This includes repairing rainwater tanks, the installation of additional rainwater catchments and increasing access to groundwater with new boreholes and pumps.
The MRA efforts complement other Australian WASH support to the district through, including the recently completed district-wide water, sanitation and hygiene survey and the Five-Year District WaSH Plan.