ADB helps Cook Islands improve WASH facilities in schools through the Clean Kukis Initiative

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RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS (March 14, 2024) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB), in
collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, is delighted to
announce the successful completion of project works to enhance water, sanitation, and
hygiene (WASH) facilities in schools across the Cook Islands ahead of the 2024 academic
year.
The project has improved the ratio of persons to WASH facilities at 10 Rarotonga schools
with the upgrade of handwashing stations and toilets, and the installation of filtered drinking
fountains. Other Rarotonga and all Pa Enua schools will receive water filter cartridges to
ensure the supply of good quality treated water to these schools.
A formal acknowledgment ceremony was held last week to mark the milestone and recognize
the collaborative efforts of all. Representatives from ADB, Ministry of Education, Cook
Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Internal Affairs, local
contractor SiteWorx, NGOs including Cook Islands National Disability Council & Creative
Centre as well as Public and Private School Principals and students attended.
Apii Arorangi School hosted the WASH in Schools ceremony, which began with a traditional
welcome [Turou] by the students on behalf of all students of the Cook Islands to pay tribute
to the momentous project.
Acting Secretary of Education, Mrs Sanjinita Sunish praised the project for its impact on local
schools.
“This support not only encourages positive hand hygiene behavior; it encourages a safer,
healthier school community,” Mrs Sunish said.
During her speech at the ceremony, Ms Elena Mataora of CIIC said the project aligned well
with her organization’s vision for the Cook Islands.
“As the entity responsible for managing and maintaining all government property assets,
including Education and Health infrastructure, public facilities, this collaboration with ADB is
truly appreciated…the project aligns perfectly with CIIC’s overarching vision — Quality assets
that serve the Cook Islands people,” Ms Mataora said.

The upgrades have been received with excitement by students and teachers at the schools.
Apii Avarua Primary School Principal Mrs Engia Baxter said her students were very happy
with the WASH improvements.
“The ECE [early childhood education] students love having their own drinking water fountain
in their area and we no longer have long queues for the drinking water tap… we only had one
drinking water tap for the entire school before,” Mrs Baxter said.
The new facilities are also supporting improved hygiene behaviors at the schools.
Appropriate toilet heights are assisting younger students to use facilities unassisted, while
the automatic switch-off feature of the hand washing taps prevents water being wasted.
At Apii Imanuela Akatemia School, Principal Mr Pita Senibiakula said staff and students were
excited to incorporate the new facilities into their activities.
“We are excited to have the wash trough at our school so we can incorporate group hygiene
activities like hand washing and brushing of teeth, children learn better as a group,” Mr Pita
Senibiakula said.
As part of the broader ADB Pacific WASH support, a subproject titled “Clean Water for All
Kukis” was launched in parallel to the facility upgrades; In collaboration with the CIIC under
Phase 1 of the Te Tau Papa o Avarua Town Plan, the country’s first wheelchair-accessible
drinking fountain was also installed at the Punanga Nui Market, Avarua, Rarotonga.
These endeavors are made possible through ADB’s regional Technical Assistance project
(TA 6551), Strengthening WASH Practices and Hygiene Behavioral Change in the Pacific.
The TA aims to enhance the capacity of Pacific members to prevent disease transmission by
promoting improved WASH practices and creating an enabling environment.
The project’s objectives include improving handwashing practices among students and staff
in Rarotonga’s schools and will ensure clean water access throughout the Cook Islands. An
awareness campaign supporting better hygiene practices, benefiting both students and the
wider community, is also in the pipeline following facility improvements.
ADB remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and
sustainable Asia-Pacific region, while continuing its endeavors to eradicate extreme poverty.

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