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Women and water
in the Solomon islands

The Solomon Islands, a developing country in the South Pacific Ocean, has one of the highest rates of urbanization in the region, while the infrastructure for basic services are insufficient to cope with the influx of people moving from the provinces towards the capital, Honiara. 35 per cent of the inhabitants of the town have, for this reason, to cope with the serious consequences for health care due to the lack of drinking water and of health services. Located on the main island of Guadalcanal, Honiara is a port city in which almost 65,000 people live, 22,500 of which are housed in thirty villages. If many have come in search of economic opportunities, others have been displaced during the civil war which flared up between 1999 and 2003. As announced by Fides, the families of Honiara must find drinking water every day for cooking, drinking and washing. In the villages, 92 per cent of households do not have any supply at all, 27 percent use fountains and 20 percent collect water from wells, rivers and streams, a shortage that causes dysentery, diarrhea and cholera. According to the Solomon Islands Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Sector Brief (Wash), while the health coverage of the islands reaches an average of 32 percent, in Honiara only 2 percent of the population have normal toilets, while 20 percent use holes and 55 per cent the sea, rivers or adjacent land. The 2011 report of Amnesty International reveals how the lack of water and sanitation also fosters violence against women who must daily walk alone long distances to fetch water, or who bathe in the springs.

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