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Papua New Guinea

Environment and health

Land uses and waste disposal linked to population growth is affecting the capacity to supply water resources in terms of quantity and quality. Currently, there are few catchments that are directly accessible to the main urban towns and cities. The development of these sources to sustain demand is difficult when settlers are located in critical areas such as at headwaters, causing concern for pollution to the original source, etc. Land uses such as agriculture, cultivating crops that consume more water, deprive other users from benefitting from the same source. Catchments such as Laloki, Wahgi and Bumbu are overstressed with poor quality yields and high demand from various users. Further, there are no proper catchment management plans that would dictate the land-use type in the area and equally distribute water resources. The constant increase in population has pushed communities and settlements to move into catchments that could not support different agricultural land uses, causing stress to the environment and water resources. Clearing of riverbanks are causing increasing erosion and depositing them into waterways (SOPAC, 2007).

More than 87 percent of the population is rural. Sewerage systems have been developed mainly in Port Moresby and urban cities. The sewerage systems were developed by Australia, which was governing the country, in the 1960s to the early 1970s before independence. They were constructed in the inland area of Port Moresby, and were extended in 1999 and 2000 in urban areas, Mount Hagen, Madang, etc., supported by a loan from the ADB. In Port Moresby, where the population is concentrated, three sewage treatment plants are in operation (Waigani, Gerehu, and Morata), which serve a population of 90 000 of the inland area of Port Moresby, which has a total population of 290 000. The treated wastewater quality of those sewage treatment plants is generally good.

However, some of the facilities need repair because they are ageing. On the other hand, there is no sewage treatment plant in the coastal area of Port Moresby, where 67 000 people are living. For this reason, sewage is once pre-treated in septic tanks and then discharged into the ocean through undersea discharge pipes, or discharged by underground seepage. The current quality is way above the standard tolerance value, 23-2 400 MPN/100ml of coli bacteria (environmental standard in Papua New Guinea: 200 MPN/100ml), 1.4-4.2 mg/litre of nitrogen (no standard in Papua New Guinea, 0.3 mg/litre for standard in Japan), 0.21-0.69 mg/l of phosphorus (no standard in Papua New Guinea, 0.03mg/litre for standard in Japan).

Discharge of such sewage of insufficient treatment to the ocean is causing water contamination in the coastal area, and is destroying the ocean environment including bleaching coral reefs, as well as causing deterioration of the sanitary environment of the local residents and affecting their health, especially those living on the sea. The ratio of water-borne diseases in the coastal area is higher than in the other areas. Average morbidity from diarrhoea is 31 percent in the coastal area, while 5 percent in the city (Japanese ODA loans, 2010).

The Japanese ODA loans financed a new project in 2010, called Port Moresby Sewerage System Upgrading. The objective of this project is to develop sewerage facilities in the coastal area of Port Moresby in order to provide sewerage services to the area, prevent the discharge of contaminated water to the coastal waters, thereby establishing a sanitary living environment of the area, as well as to improve the residentsĺ living environment and activate the industries (Japanese ODA loans, 2010).


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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