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Luganville in the south pacific island nation of Vanuatu has been suffering from ageing infrastructure and inadequate urban services for its growing population. With support from ADB and CDIA, the government is set to turn things around for this small city, known as a “sleeping giant” in the international tourism industry.
Luganville is the second largest urban center in the country. Despite its small population of 18,890 in 2016, it is experiencing rapid population growth – as high as 6.8% in the peri-urban areas.
The city has also sprawled along the coast and American-built roads during World War II. The majority of the infrastructure built back then are still being used today, either in original or upgraded conditions. As population density in these areas is low, per capita investment for providing the services is high.
Located in the southeast coast of Vanuatu’s largest island Espiritu Santo, Luganville is low-lying and highly vulnerable to climate change and natural risks. But it is an important hub for import and export, a cruise ship destination, and a target for inward migration.
The city is set to grow exponentially, stressing the need for adequate, reliable and efficient urban infrastructure and services.
The Government’s Response to Urban Challenges
Together with development partners like the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Government of Vanuatu has committed to boost infrastructure investment in Luganville and across Espiritu Santo to facilitate economic growth, create job opportunities and improve living conditions of people.
CDIA was quick to help move their infrastructure aspirations to investment projects for ADB financing. In June 2017, the Vanuatu Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Luganville Municipal Council sought technical support to develop an urban development master plan and associated feasibility studies for priority sectors. Subsequently, CDIA delivered the following:
This 15-year integrated urban development plan provides strategic guidance in achieving the urban development aspirations of Luganville. It aligns the vision of the Sanma-Luganville Strategic Development plan (2017-2026), the draft Greater Luganville Development Control and Zoning Plan (DCZP), and various national and local government infrastructure investment plans.
The Luganville Integrated Urban Development Plan highlighted key spatial and urban service delivery challenges, provided strategic direction for the update of statutory planning controls, identified priority infrastructure projects, and indicated a plan for implementing the projects. Local stakeholders ranked the priority projects through various consultations and via CDIA’s City Infrastructure Investment Prioritization and Programming (CIIPP) toolkit.
Another key output of CDIA’s technical assistance is the conduct of feasibility studies for selected priority sub-projects, including preliminary engineering designs, economic analysis, financial analysis, environmental and social assessments, and capacity development and institutional strengthening strategies. The studies produced focused on coordinated measures to improve the existing infrastructure and services in the water supply, solid waste, sanitation, and drainage sectors.
For water supply, the study focused on the construction of new water supply headworks and related storage and transmission mains, water treatment to meet World Health Organization guidelines at source, and piloting non-revenue water reduction strategies. The CDIA study is used by ADB as basis for the proposed $12-million investment project in the water sector to commence this year.
For solid waste, the feasibility study focused on measures to expand household waste collection services; upgrade existing waste dumpsite; remediate existing waste to reduce adverse impacts on groundwater, reduce methane emissions and accelerate waste decomposition; and identify future waste disposal site(s).
For sanitation, the study focused on the construction of new and upgraded public school toilets, demonstration of affordable and safe sanitation in identified problem areas such as Sarakata floodplain, and development of safe septage disposal and treatment facility.
Finally, for drainage, the study focused on improving drains and other facilities in the Sarakata floodplain and central business district.
By employing a needs-based, integrated and coordinated approach to urban planning and infrastructure development, CDIA hopes to have built the bridge through which Luganville can move their development aspirations into finance-ready and implementable projects.