Australian High Commission
Solomon Islands

Emma Carden – WASH Engineer and Mentor at RDP (Phase 2)

6 December 2016

                                                        Emma Carden – WASH Engineer and Mentor at RDP (Phase 2)

Having access to rural communities across all parts of Solomon Islands is an experience afforded to few. Being guided by the people of these communities up steep mountains and through beautiful forests, to find pristine water supplies, provides an even greater insight into the landscape of Solomon Islands and the lives of its people. These aspects are a unique privilege for Emma Carden in her volunteer position at the Solomon Islands Rural Development Program (RDP II).

The RDP uses a Community Demand-Driven approach to improve infrastructure and services in rural communities. Approximately half the projects prioritised through this approach are new or rehabilitated community water supplies and Emma lends her experience in this cycle of the RDP. Improving water supplies is supporting Solomon Islands in its progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all.  

“Access to a reliable supply of good quality water is a fundamental need for all communities. In Solomon Islands, I have been able to witness first-hand the impact that limited access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene has on individual and community health. By increasing access to safe water, RDP is changing the lives of rural people in Solomon Islands. My involvement with these programs in rural communities has been immensely rewarding,” Emma said.

Emma’s role includes building knowledge within the RDP on water supply system design, construction and operation as well as the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) public health approach. This will better equip the RDP to assist rural communities achieve their goal of access to safe drinking water.

“The WASH sector is a significant aspect of the RDP partnership with our rural communities. The technical and mentoring support provided by Emma and her volunteer colleagues is vital, essential and significant to ensure that the RDP partnership and collaboration with rural WASH priorities maintains relevance and responsiveness at all times, even as RDP continues to build its own national human resources,” said RDP Program Manager Lottie Vaisekavea.

Volunteering as a WASH Engineer and mentor at the RDP also allows Emma to participate in the broader Rural WASH (RWASH) sector, in Solomon Islands.

Emma added, “Being part of the RWASH sector allows me to see the variety of techniques and practices that NGO’s and government are using to achieve change in Solomon Islands. The RWASH sector adopts a diverse set of approaches such as policy setting, new technology and behaviour-change. This recognises, for example, good handwashing habits don’t arrive with new water taps. How we engage with communities is equally as important as what is built.”   

More than half-way through her one year assignment with RDP, Emma reflects on her time so far as being very fruitful.

 “I am so grateful for my time here. Volunteering has been a truly enriching experience for me personally, and the people of Solomon Islands I have worked with have made it that way,” Emma said.

Emma has a degree in Civil Engineering and has more than 10 years’ experience working in water supply operations and risk management in Victoria, Australia.