Vanuatu Remote Island Desalination


An island in Vanuatu, consisting of 800 residents, traditionally relied on rainwater for their drinking water supply. In times of droughts, water needed to be carted from the mainland. Climate change has caused an increase in droughts and cyclone activity in the Pacific, therefore with less reliable rainwater harvesting, the island’s water supply needed to be secured. With no other reliable sources of water available, Moerk Water installed an easy to use solar powered membrane desalination system on the island. The unit is made from robust parts and designed using Australian-German engineering. The unit produces WHO standard water each day to supplement the existing rainwater harvesting activities. The unit uses uncontaminated seawater as feedwater and runs at low recovery rate to minimize effects on the environment and also so it can be run chemical free. Moerk Water undertook extensive training of the daily operators and continues to provide ongoing technical support. This approach has ensured that the unit has been in continual operation since 2018. As the community now has access to clean water all year round, school attendance has improved as has the health of the community residents.


Project Outcomes: 

  • A remote island in Vanuatu consistently ran short of water due to a series of droughts
  • Moerk Water installed a solar powered membrane filtration system which has been successfully providing WHO standard drinking water to the residents of the community since 2018
  • In 2020, Cyclone Harold struck the island but drinking water production from the solar powered water treatment unit was uninterrupted
  • Community health has improved with a reduction in pneumonia and upper respiratory tract infections as well as a reduction in diarrhea, stomach complaints and skin diseases.
  • Additionally, with a secure water supply, school attendance has increased, particularly amongst girls



“People in the community have historically suffered from inadequate access to safe water during El Nino and dry season. A desalination project – or removal of salts and ions from seawater – had made drinking water safe and address the prolonged challenge faced by the community” – Television Blong Vanuatu News, September 2018

“My family has lived and worked on [the island] since 2010.  We experienced firsthand the effects that dry season and droughts has on this rural community.  The people are resilient and determined, but as the population grows and they deal with the ever-growing effects of climate change, there is a genuine need for creative and sustainable solutions – particularly when it comes to clean, accessible water source.  This project engineered by Moerk Water was exactly that.

Despite the international response to Covid which forced the community’s advisors to leave [the community] in 2020, the community has done a remarkable job keeping this sophisticated system running with only minor interruptions for 4 ½ years.  Based on the machine’s hours, I can confidently estimate that the project has produced more than 2,500,000 liters of clean water for the community. ” – Brad Jones, community resident, July 2023

  • Capability Community Water Independence
  • Feedwater Sea Water
  • Water Quality Red Flags Salinity
  • Primary Water Treatment Membrane Desalination
  • Project Outcomes