Promoting the Right to Water: A Case Study of Port Moresby

Naomi Francis

The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

In 2015 the Government of Papua New Guinea, with the help of the World Bank, launched its first policy to manage water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in both urban and rural parts of the country (PNG WASH Policy 2015-2030). The policy explicitly engages with international human rights discourses in that it ‘identifies access to water and sanitation to be a basic human right’. Although access to water in Port Moresby is greater than in rural areas; urban water supply is a challenge in the face of rapidly expanding urban and peri-urban populations. Access to water and other services is particularly poor in Hanuabada near the central business district which is home to the largest community of Motu people: an indigenous group to Port Moresby who live mostly on stilt houses built over the ocean. Over the last five years, a project funded by the New Zealand Aid Program aimed to develop the capacity of the local government to deliver safe water to the Hanuabada community. This case study highlights the various strategic considerations of the many actors involved in invoking a human rights discourse to provide access to safe water.


Naomi Francis is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Melbourne and Monash University. Her research interests include water, sanitation, hygiene, health and gender in low-income settings. She has conducted research in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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