Helping Oxfam deliver fresh water to communities in Melanesia

The Oxfam Water Challenge is about New Zealand companies joining together to make a big splash – a splash that ensures fresh water flows to communities in rural Melanesia. Last weekend, two Beca teams from Wellington and Auckland took part in the challenge held at Saint Kentigern School in Auckland. Teams of four were required to work together to design, build and operate a solution to a water scenario.

The challenge is part of a wider fundraising effort to get a vital Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project off the ground in Melanesia. Each team has been fundraising over the last few months to meet a target of $2000 which will help Oxfam reach their target of $50,000 – the amount they need to get the WASH project up and running.

On Challenge Day, a total of 17 teams from around New Zealand competed to design, build, and operate a temporary water supply system. The system had to be completed within 2.5 hours and capable of holding and delivering a minimum of 100 litres of water from a water source, through a dam to a water storage tank and, finally, to the end-user supply point. Teams were given a variety of materials and tools including garden stakes, polyethylene sheeting, a ball of twine, scissors, milk bottles, containers and 30 metres of 13mm pipe.

Emily Hinton, a mechanical engineer in our Wellington team says, "We learnt about the value of water and how in lots of places around the world, it isn't as easy as just turning on a tap. It was a well-run event by Oxfam and gave us a great opportunity to meet other engineers with a keen interest in humanitarian aid."

Melanesia is an island region of the Pacific. It includes the countries of Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. Throughout Melanesia, ill-health from drinking dirty water and poor sanitation is one of the most serious threats to human life. Globally, waterborne diseases kill more than one million children each year. Most of these cases can be prevented or treated. In Papua New Guinea just 33 per cent of rural people have access to safe water. Find out what you can do to help.

So far, our teams have raised over $4400 towards the cause. Donations are open until 21 March, so it's not too late to show your support. You can donate online via the Oxfam website.

See more photos from the event on Facebook.

Photo credit: Hakan Nedjat Photography