Head of Project Management Unit (Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project)

Head of Project Management Unit (Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project)

Objective and Purpose of the Assignment

 
 

The population of Solomon Islands is currently estimated at 635,000 and is growing at approximately 1.9%
annually. About 152,000 (24%) of the Solomon Islands population live in urban and peri-urban areas, the
largest of which is greater Honiara, with an estimated population of about 105,000. Based on medium
growth projections, Solomon Islands urban population may grow to 430,000 by 2050. The population of
greater Honiara is expected to surpass 300,000 within the next 30 years.

Urban development in Solomon Islands presents a number of challenges. These include: (i) a rapid urban
growth rate (4.7%) which is more than double the national population growth (2.1%); (ii) rapid expansion
of informal settlements; and (iii) decreasing rates of access to urban services such as electricity,
reticulated water supply and sanitation, solid waste collection and drainage. A substantial number of
urban planning studies and urban infrastructure strategic plans have been prepared over the past 10
years with little or no connection to other sector plans or consultation with service providers and
communities, resulting ad hoc urban planning. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided technical
assistance (TA) to prepare an integrated Greater Honiara Urban Development Strategy and associated
investment plan with a design horizon of 30 years. The outputs were delivered in May 2018, and are
intended to facilitate planned and coordinated development and foster improved living standards and
economic growth in the greater Honiara area. The urban infrastructure investment requirements for
Honiara are likely to be considerable. A framework to prioritize, logically phase, and finance such
investments will be essential and long term assistance to implement the Greater Honiara Urban
Development Strategy is likely to be required.

Solomon Islands has a high incidence of waterborne disease. Diarrheal diseases are the sixth most common
cause of deaths in Solomon Islands accounting for 4.1% of deaths (or 28.1 deaths per 100,000 people).
The high incidence of waterborne disease can be primarily attributed to limited access to safe water and
improved sanitation and poor hygiene awareness and behaviors. The high incidence of waterborne disease
will continue unless access to safe water and improved sanitation increases and hygiene behaviors
change. Several programs to improve hygiene awareness and behaviors (“WASH”) are being implemented in
Solomon Islands. However, these WASH programs focus primarily of rural areas and few, if any,
comprehensive and long duration urban and peri-urban WASH programs exist. Solomon Islands failed to
achieve Target 7C of the Millennium Development Goals with limited increases in access to safe water,
only a 1.1% increase (from 79.7% in 2000), and sanitation of up 4.3 percentage points (from 25.5% in
2000) by 2015. Without substantial investment to improve access to safe water and sanitation, Solomon
Islands is unlikely to achieve Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The primary sources of potable water for urban households are the public water supply schemes (55%),
household rainwater tanks (42%), wells and springs (1%), and other sources such as bottled water and
streams (2%). Rainwater harvesting is being increasingly utilized by households to increase access to
potable water but is not secure due to seasonal rainfall patterns and more frequent droughts due to
climate change. In drought years, water stored in rainwater tanks is rapidly consumed and rainwater
tanks may remain unreplenished for long periods. The 1997 and 1998 droughts are estimated to have
reduced the availability of freshwater in Honiara by around 30-40% damaging crops and impacting on
livelihoods. The United Nations Development Programme noted that climate-related impacts on the quality
and quantity of water in Solomon Islands has a gender dimension “in the context of the ethnic tensions,
the safety and security of women and girls are compromised as they need to travel further to collect
water, also leading to less time for other activities.”

The Solomon Islands Water Authority (trading as Solomon Water – “SW”), a state-owned enterprise created
under the Solomon Islands Water Act 1992, is mandated to “provide for the proper management and
development of urban water resources and sewerage services in Solomon Islands”. SW currently delivers
water supply services to approximately 65,000 people in 4 urban centers (Auki, Honiara, Noro, and
Tulagi) of which 58,000 live in the greater Honiara area. SW is currently investigating expanding its
operations to cover the Gizo water supply system. SW also provides sewerage services to approximately
1,000 customers in Honiara.

Historically, the financial management of SW has been poor and in 2010 it was in a state of near
financial and operational collapse. Due to weak governance by the previous board, poor management with
limited skills, and inappropriately low tariffs, SW was unable to pay its electricity bills and
accumulated a substantial debt to the Solomon Islands Electricity Authority. There was a substantial
risk water and sanitation services in Honiara would collapse with significant adverse impacts on human
health and the local economy. In August 2010, the Solomon Islands Government commenced a series of
reforms to strengthen SW. The reforms included replacement of the SW Board and appointment of an interim
General Manager and an interim Finance and Administration Manager who immediately prepared a short-term
recovery strategy and action plan (RAP) to guide urgent reforms to SW’s organization, finances and
operations. The primary objectives of the RAP were to improve service levels and increase revenue. The
RAP was presented to Government and endorsed by the SW Board in May 2011. A two-year development plan
was subsequently prepared by SW to build on the RAP, targeting several critical issues to ensure the
sustainable delivery of water and sewerage services.

SW’s ability to deliver water supply and sewerage services has improved markedly since 2011 and SW has
recorded operating profits of more than SI$6 million for the past 3 years, although some operational
costs have been funded by donors, which would effectively reduce the profit to below zero. However,
further institutional strengthening is required to ensure SW remains financially and technically
sustainable. SW continues to face major challenges. Investment in recurrent and preventative maintenance
and capital works programs has historically been low due to inadequate revenue and funding and has
resulted in the deterioration of SW’s water and sewerage networks. Rapid urban growth is also hindering
SW in delivering its mandate.

SW currently delivers water to about 55% of the greater Honiara population and sewerage services to less
than 10% of Honiara’s residential population. Currently, average daily demand (ADD) in conjunction with
non-revenue water (“NRW”) exceeds the sustainable yield from SW’s water sources (groundwater wells) by
8.2 million liters per day (MLD). NRW currently represents about 60% of water production and is
increasing. During peak daily demand (PDD), the gap between demand and sustainable yield increases to
12.2 MLD. Currently SW can supply water for approximately 22 hours per day (which is significantly
better than in 2011). A substantial reduction of NRW is required to close the gap between demand and
sustainable yield in addition to measures to reduce per capita demand.

SW plans to increase its water supply coverage to 95% of the in the greater Honiara population by 2047
(or 296,000 people). ADD and PDD projections over the next 30 years for a service population of 296,000
people indicate that ADD will increase by 42.7 MLD (261%) and PDD by 52.2 MLD (291%). The projections
assume that NRW will be reduced to 25% (or less) and per capita demand will decrease to 150 liters per
day over the same period. Based on these demand projections and assuming NRW is reduced to 25% within 5
years, PDD and ADD will exceed the current sustainable production by 2022 and 2024 respectively. The
development of new water sources to augment the existing water sources will be required within the next
5 years.

The Honiara sewerage network services approximately 1,000 customers and comprises 13 discrete gravity
collection systems of which 11 discharge to ocean outfalls and 2 discharge to river outfalls. The
system, constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, consists of 36 kilometers of pipes comprising 31 kilometers
and services commercial and government customers located near the ocean and residential customers at
Vuru, Naha, Tuvaruhu and Vara Creek. Most of the sewer outfalls operate under gravity, with the
exceptions of the Point Cruz and King George VI systems, where pump stations discharge sewage to the
respective outfalls. Except for the Rove, Tuvaruhu and Vara Creek sewerage systems, there is no sewage
treatment prior to discharge to the outfalls. Sewage from Rove, Tuvaruhu and Vara Creek sewerage systems
is treated at communal septic tanks which have not been effectively maintained and discharge poor
quality effluent to their respective receiving environments. SW corporate targets for sewerage services
in Honiara is to increase it sewerage coverage to 20% of residential and majority of non-residential
properties by 2022 and subsequently to 30% of residential properties by 2047. The remainder of the city
is serviced by on-site sanitation systems (mainly septic tanks and pit latrines). Individual septic
tanks are managed by Honiara City Council (HCC). Septage pumped and collected from both household and
commercial/institutional septic tanks is currently transported to the uncontrolled, local dump site
operated by HCC at Ranadi or is illegally dumped elsewhere. However, such systems have also historically
been poorly maintained.

The Point Cruz and King George sewerage pumping stations suffer from repeated breakdowns, surcharge and
overflows. These present a risk to public health and give rise to frequent complaints from the public
about odor, pollution, and inconvenience. Both pumping stations require refurbishment, including the
replacement of pipework, pumps and electrical control panels. Some of this work has been carried out.
All outfalls have been damaged on or above the shoreline. Raw sewage is often discharged to beaches
creating a health risk to the public and odor complaints. Solids are not disbursed to sea and are
carried back onto the shoreline.

To address these challenges and to improve access to safe water and improved sanitation, SW prepared a
comprehensive strategic plan, the Solomon Water 30 Year Strategic Plan, and a 5 Year Action Plan. The
strategic plan and 5-year action plan presents SW’s strategy and actions to sustainably deliver its
mandate.

With the support of Development partners ADB, World Bank and EU, SW have obtained funding for a
significant portion of the 5 year action plan under the Urban Water Supply & Sanitation Sector Project
UWSSSP. UWSSSP will improve access to safe water and improved sanitation in urban and peri-urban areas
of Solomon Islands. The project is aligned with the following impact: Access to safe water and improved
sanitation in urban areas increased. The project will have the following outcome: efficiency, climate
change and disaster resiliency, sustainability of safe water and sanitation in urban areas improved.

The project outputs will include:
(A) Output 1 – secure and safe urban water supplies. Output 1 will increase the number of urban
households with access to climate and disaster resilient water supplies. In Honiara, the project will
increase the number of households with access to the SW water supply network from 8,000 (or 56,000
people) to 13,700 (or 96,000 people) by 2028; and (ii) reduce non-revenue water from the current level
of 62% to 30% or less by 2028. Investments may include: (i) rehabilitation of existing water supply
sources, (ii) installation of up to 80km of water supply mains to expand and rehabilitate the water
supply system, (iii) installation of an additional 12 million liters of water storage, and (iv) leak
detection and pipeline repairs. The project will also build the climate and disaster resiliency of
provincial town water supplies and investments will include the rehabilitation and expansion of the
Auki, Noro, and Tulagi water supply systems.

(B) Output 2 – effective, efficient and safe urban sanitation services. Output 2 will improve sanitation
to the residents of greater Honiara. All households in the greater Honiara area which rely on onsite
wastewater treatment and disposal methods (about 14,000) will benefit from improved on-site sanitation
policies and fecal sludge management. Sewage discharged from Honiara’s sewer system will comply with
water quality standards by 2028. The current public and environmental health risks resulting from the
discharge of untreated sewage and septage will be reduced benefiting all residents of Honiara.
Investments may include: (a) preparation and implementation of septage management regulations, (b)
construction of a septage treatment facility to service the greater Honiara area (c) rationalization of
Honiara’s 15 sewer existing outfalls and rehabilitation of at least 3 sewer outfalls and construction of
a new sewer outfall at Mataniko to build disaster and climate change resiliency; (d) installation of 7km
of sewers to expand and rehabilitate the Honiara sewer system, and (e) rehabilitation of at least 2
sewage pumping stations.

(C) Output 3 – enhanced awareness of hygiene and water issues and sustained improved hygiene behavior. A
hygiene awareness and education program (HAEP), delivered to selected schools, health clinics, and
communities, will be implemented over the full duration of the project. The HAEP will provide
educational activities that promote good sanitation and hygiene practices that help prevent water and
sanitation related diseases. Through Output 3, at least 10,000 persons will have increased knowledge of
the benefits of improved sanitation and hygiene behaviors by 2028. Activities will include the design
and implementation of hygiene awareness and education programs.

(D) Output 4 – SW is financially and technically sustainable. A program to assist SW to strengthen its
financial, technical, and operational sustainability will be implemented. The program will: (i) prepare
and implement priority corporate policies; (ii) strengthen SW’s financial and technical data management;
and (iii) deliver capacity building programs for SW staff. The target outcome of Output 4 will be SW
fully recovers its annual operations and maintenance costs, asset depreciation costs, and debt servicing
costs from user charges and SIG community service obligation payments by 2028.

A Project Management Unit (PMU) that will be responsible for the delivery of SW UWSSSP investment
projects has been established within SW.

The Project is being co-financed by ADB (as the lead development partner) World Bank and the EU. ADB
approved financing for the project on 25 September 2019. Total project financing amounts to $92.81
million. The cost estimate comprises: (i) water supply infrastructure investments – $53.08 million; (ii)
sanitation supply infrastructure investments – $20.50 million; (iii) hygiene awareness and education
activities – $2.53 million; (iv) SW institutional strengthening – $3.59 million; (vi) contingencies –
$12.06 million, and (vii) financing charges – $1.06 million.

Detailed design of core projects under UWSSSP has been undertaken using ADB Project Readiness Financing
(PRF) and using SW in-kind contribution to the project. A total of 6 construction packages are under
preparation for tender and award by the end of Q3 2020.

A number of international specialists for WASH, Communications and Environment have been hired to
support the PMU – their input on an as required basis in support of PMU national specialists will
continue for an extended period.

23. A second tranche of projects have been identified by SW that are currently unfunded these include a
new surface water treatment plant; transmission lines and storage facilities to distribute the treated
water; pipe replacement – both water mains and sewers. SW has approached a number of potential
development partners to assist with funding the second tranche of works and it is anticipated that
further funding will become available in coming years.

Scope of Work

 
 

The Head of the Project Management Unit (PMU) will be responsible for the management and oversight of SW
PMU with responsibility for delivery of all aspects of SW capital investment program including
international specialists and design consultants undertaking detailed design for project investments.

Detailed Tasks and/or Expected Output

 
 

The tasks and expected outputs of the Head of the PMU include:

(i) Liaise with various Donors on potential funding programs, reporting requirements and any other
requirements associated with receipt of donor funds for the second tranche of projects as yet unfunded.

(ii) Develop a realistically achievable and prioritized workplan based upon SW strategic plan and 5 year
action plan.

(iii) Instill a Project Management Office (PMO) philosophy in approach to important projects.<br>

(iv) Oversee and coordinate the tender and procurement processes for UWSSSP and other SW Capex projects.
Ensure full compliance with all donor requirements.

(v) Identify and procure design services for as yet unfunded high priority projects to allow for late
2020 or early 2021 construction contract tendering.<br>

(vi) Oversee design of various priority projects.<br>

(vii) Oversee construction implementation of all UWSSP other SW Capex projects.

(viii) Work with government departments to facilitate smooth donor funding and government reporting
requirements.<br>

(ix) Effectively manage staff resources to achieve program requirements and deliver design and
construction projects on time and to budget.<br>

(x) Ensure appropriate safeguards and governance controls are in place, managed and reported as required.
<br>

(xi) Maintain strong relationships with donor organizations and key stakeholders, through the
development and implementation of a stakeholder engagement and management plan.

(xii) Attend and report to project steering committee as required by the General Manager of Solomon
Water.<br>

(xiii) Provide coaching and mentoring to local staff managing design and construction projects using
best practice project management.<br>

(xiv) Provide knowledge transfer to local staff.

(xv) Be part of the executive team of SW.

Minimum Qualification Requirements

 
 

The Head of the PMU will have a degree in engineering or project management and have at least 15 years
demonstrated experience in planning, designing and implementing urban infrastructure projects including
at least 10 years in planning, designing and implementing water supply and sewerage projects. Knowledge
of ADB procurement and reporting procedures and small developing nation experience is essential. The
Head of the PMU will report to the SW General Manager.

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