More water tests for Tarawa

New Zealand Army Staff Sgt. Nick Bunker collects a water sample during a Pacific Partnership 2013 water quality assessment. Photo:  2nd Class Tim D Godbee, US Navy.

New Zealand Army Staff Sgt. Nick Bunker collects a water sample during a Pacific Partnership 2013 water quality assessment. Photo: 2nd Class Tim D Godbee, US Navy.

Have you wondered why there are so many foreign soldiers and other imatangs on South Tarawa this week?

That’s because Pacific Partnership 2013 are here on another disaster response preparedness mission.

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Part of the mission includes the testing the quality of water from a number of rainwater catchment systems by environmental health specialists from the New Zealand Army.

The systems are being assessed for prospective maintenance projects for future engineering projects, and to make suggestions to the people of Tarawa about what each systems water would be best used for New Zealand Army Staff Sgt. Nick Bunker said.

Ruateki Taato, a manager of one of the catchment systems tested, said that the water provided by the catchment systems was crucial to the communities well being and many people’s only source of water. He himself uses the water every day.

“Testing the quality is important to the people of my community because water is a large part of our health,” said Taato. “Without clean water we can’t be healthy.”

The catchment systems were donated by the New Zealand Agency for International Development in 2012, but must be maintained in order to operate properly and provide clean water.

“We are providing infrastructure to the people of Tarawa, but it’s also important that we ensure that they can maintain it by providing them with tools and knowledge,”Bunker said.

“There is a lot of equipment to these systems, but instructions on how to maintain them are not always clear. We’re trying to ensure that the aid that is being given here has a legacy.”

Conducted annually since 2006, Pacific Partnership is the largest disaster response-preparedness mission in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations that include Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand.

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