USAID “WE RISE” Project to improve household access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities

"Together, we will improve household access to safe drinking water and household access to safe sanitation facilities, ensure communities have access to hygiene supplies during emergencies, and strengthen local organizations’ preparedness and response to disasters at the community level"

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The USD $1.5 million Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Expansion, Resilient Islands, Strengthened Environments (WE RISE) project at Malololelei was launched this week.

The WE RISE project is funded by  the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).

The two-year initiative aims to increase the climate resilience and water security of vulnerable and disaster-prone communities in the Republic of Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga, and the Independent State of Samoa.

WE RISE will be implemented by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in partnership with local organizations: Caritas Archdiocese of Suva, Caritas Tonga, and Caritas Samoa.

WE RISE aims to improve household access to safe drinking water and safe sanitation facilities, ensure communities have access to WASH supplies during emergencies, and strengthen local organizations’ preparedness and response to disasters at the community level. 

Through this USAID funding, WE RISE will also empower the local organizations by providing training and accompaniment by focusing on building their critical technical capacities, functions, and systems.

Pacific Islands are at acute risk for hydrometeorological disasters such as storms, floods, and droughts, all of which are being amplified by climate change.

Natural hazards that communities face include sea level rise, typhoons, cyclones, erratic rainfall, reef degradation, and pest outbreaks. The World Bank estimates more than 41 cyclones per year occur in the Pacific, resulting in an Average Annual Loss as a percentage of GDP of 18%, 9%, and 5% for Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa, respectively.

US Ambassador to Samoa, HE Tom Udall had the honor of delivering remarks for the launch of the project at Malololelei this week.

“I am delighted today to announce the launch of our new project – The Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Expansion, Resilient Islands, Strengthened Environments project or “WE RISE.”   WE RISE is a two-year initiative that will support 12,000 people in disaster-prone communities in the Republic of Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga, and the Independent State of Samoa.

The project here in Samoa will be implemented by Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Samoa, in partnership with the government, the faith-based community and local organizations. Together, we will improve household access to safe drinking water and household access to safe sanitation facilities, ensure communities have access to hygiene supplies during emergencies, and strengthen local organizations’ preparedness and response to disasters at the community level. This launch today marks more progress on bringing resources from the American people to Samoa, such as was announced by the Second Gentleman Mr. Douglas Emhoff in July last year,” said U.S. Ambassador Tom Udall.  

WE RISE builds on USAID’s previous and existing support for Emergency Response and Disaster Risk Reduction in the Pacific Islands, including assistance in the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa. 

The project aligns to the National Adaptation Plans of each country, specifically for Fiji the sectoral priorities of Health, Human Settlements, and Infrastructure. It builds on lessons learned from recent natural disasters and geological hazards faced by the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), including the HungaTonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami that Tongans faced in early 2022.

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