Pacific Communities Enjoy Safe Water And Solar Power

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Suva, Fiji

Nov. 30, 2015

"Our government’s goal of attaining 30 percent access to renewable energy by 2020 has been achieved through the installation of 800k grid connected renewable energy system," said Hubert Yamada, assistant secretary for energy from the Federated States of Micronesia.

More than 300,000 people across fourteen Pacific island countries are benefiting from solar power and safe water thanks to the Japanese government’s Pacific Environment Community or PEC Fund administered by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Japan and the Forum leaders endorsed the fund in 2009. A $66 million contribution to establish a multi-country program aimed at financing innovative solutions to the critical issues of water security and access, and the provision of solar energy was provided.

Five years later, the installation of solar power generation systems through the Fund is able to deliver 1.3million megawatt hours of electricity per year to urban areas and communities that previously had little or no access to electricity. The installation of sea water desalination plants is able to produce 249 million liters of safe water per year in seven Pacific countries.

The environmental benefits include a significant reduction in the use of fossil fuels, the reduction of approximately 4,200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually across the Pacific and substantial fuel cost savings of hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars.

"Ninety-five percent of our solar home water system are owned by women," said Gabriel Aimaea, deputy director for energy, Solomon Islands. "We have been able to see transformational change for these women and their households. The solar power has enabled our women to be empowered economically and able to provide decent lighting for their families. Significantly, their children now enjoy access to sustainable source of and are able to study into the night and they no longer have to rely on kerosene lights."

Earlier last week, PEC Fund coordinators from across the region gathered in Lautoka, Fiji to discuss project implementation and strengthening the sustainability of the already installed solar power generation systems and sea water desalination systems.

"Significant progress has been made by Forum Island Countries implementing these projects across the region," said Cristelle Pratt, deputy secretary-general for strategic partnerships and coordination at the Forum Secretariat.

"Installation has now been completed in 11 out of the 14 Forum island countries," she added.

"[Last] week gives country coordinators a wonderful opportunity to get together and share their project and practice experiences. Part of the success of the Fund has been country ownership, its collaborative approach with countries and communities. This week’s gathering will further enhance that spirit of regional collaboration into the future."

Coordinators from 13 Forum Island Countries including Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Republic of Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu attended the meeting.

The final activity was a visit to one desalination and solar power project site on the island of Viwa in the Yasawa Islands.

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