BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
SEVEN years after settling in their new community, April Valley residents on the outskirt of east Honiara say sanitation remains an issue.
These people were once residents of Koa Hill in central Honiara.
But the 2014 flash flood that killed 20 people and washed away their homes on the banks of the Mataniko river, drove them over to April Valley.
Virginia Kopu, 47, from Guadalcanal, and her family were amongst those that were displaced and resettled at April Valley.
“Most families here don’t have proper toilets,” she told Environment Media Solomon Islands.
“So they just have to use the nearby bushes and streams to do their business when nature calls,” Kopu, who is married to a Malaitan, added.
“It’s a real issue that we need the Government and other bodies to assist us address.
“Some families have built themselves basic toilets, but most do not.”
Government allocated these families land and moved them over after the floods.
But each family has to build their own home.
Initially, there were no water, electricity and access road. However, Solomon Water has since extended its service to the community, but residents are still sharing community stand-pipes.
An unsealed access road connecting the Border-Aekafo road was built into the community.
Electricity is not yet available.
A private primary school was recently opened nearby, giving children of the community the opportunity to attend school, but there were no clinics.
It’s understood the Government intends to build a clinic in the area.
Kopu said lack of toilet remains a pressing issue that poses serious health threat to residents of April Valley.
“My greatest fear is if our sanitation issue is not addressed, risks of regular diarrhoea outbreaks in the community are likely to occur from time to time.
“I’m not a nurse or an educated mother, but I have basic knowledge of the risks we face when we don’t have proper sanitation facilities.
“The land we use to plant our foods, the water and the air are inter-connected and if the environment is unsafe, polluted for instance, then these will affect our health.
“Right now, we don’t have a clinic here….we have to go to China town, Naha or Vura clinics to access health service.”
Despite the way things are, residents of this community are going about their daily lives.
Kopu said despite the current situation, she was excited about the water supply that Solomon Water has extended to their community.
She said each household should have their own water when Solomon Water completes the pipe installations this year.
Environment Media Solomon Islands understands the Government’s next phase of assistance to the settlement is extending power and building proper access road.