A $3 million programme aimed at improving lagoon water quality in Rarotonga and Aitutaki is now underway. The Waste Management and Sanitation Improvement Programme is being funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme and has been developed in consultation with Cook Island Government agencies, businesses and civil society.
“Effective waste management and sanitation infrastructure and services on Rarotonga and Aitutaki will help drive economic growth by supporting the tourism sector and safeguarding the lagoons for future generations,” New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Cook Islands, Linda Te Puni said.
The programme includes funding to help develop a national sanitation plan of action; assistance for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning’s new Water, Waste and Sanitation Unit, addressing sewage problems caused by domestic septic tanks, tourism and animal farms; and trialling innovative, low-cost technologies (such as the ecoTrench).
A short term advisor from Local Government New Zealand (Opotiki District Council) is due to arrive in Cook Islands this week to assist the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning improve landfill management at Arorangi and Aitutaki landfills. This will include looking at recycling options and solutions for compacting waste.
Recruitment is also well under way for a Programme Manager to lead and drive implementation of the Waste Management and Sanitation Improvement Programme.
“New Zealand is committed to working with the local community to help protect Cook Islands’ pristine natural environment and our support for effective waste management and sanitation reflects this,” Ms Te Puni said.
The Waste Management and Sanitation Improvement Programme complements the Cook Islands National Sustainable Development Plan 2007-2010 by helping to improve the management of solid, liquid and other forms of wastes, and minimising the human health effects and impacts on the environment.