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Video: Oxfam highlights poor access to water across Pacific

Oxfam highlights poor access to water across the Pacific with Queen Street water haul

In a show of solidarity with people across the Pacific, many of whom lack the basics taken for granted by Kiwis, Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director Barry Coates was joined by staff and supporters to carry heavy loads of water, vegetables and bedding up Queen Street at lunch time today.

The walk was inspired by the story of people in Omkolai, a village in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, who, during the dry season, make an 8-10 hour round-trip journey several times a week up a steep moutainside, just to bring back water for their families to drink and cook with. Oxfam works with communities like Omkolai across the Pacific, helping them to access safe, clean water and toilets, along with teaching the importance of hand washing and hygiene.

“For Kiwis the gift of safe, drinking water is instantaneous, literally available at the turn of a tap. We tend to take it for granted. After walking just 30 minutes carrying heavy water jerry cans, I feel empathy for the thousands of women across the Pacific who have to walk for hours up steep terrain to collect water. It is a special feeling to know we can help them also experience the gift of safe water close to their homes,” said Coates.

Oxfam is raising money to fund its work with poor and vulnerable people across the Pacific and Southeast Asia. The agency works with communities to ensure people have access to safe water and toilets, families can grow more and better food, children have the chance at an education, women are protected from violence and people have sustainable livelihoods as well as resilience to disasters like droughts, floods and tsunamis. The organisation hopes to raise $250,000 by World Water Day on March 22.

Coates was accompanied by a group of staff and supporters, including people from Papua New Guinea and Tonga. The group walked from Queen Elizabeth II Square at the bottom of Queen Street to Aotea Square, carrying full 20-litre water jugs as well as vegetables and bedding in traditional Papua New Guinea bilums, woven bags.


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