Peter Sharry interview: community-based water management approaches in the Pacific

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]An interview with Peter Sharry of Axiom Water Technologies. He discusses his work in the Pacific including how the communities he works with perceive water, the nature of community assets and private assets, the role of community champions acting as water stewards, and Peter’s role running a boutique consulting firm conducting international development work.

Peter is an industrial chemist and integrated water management professional with 29 years of practical, analytical process design and troubleshooting operations and consulting experience. He is based out of Cairns, in tropical North Queensland, Peter’s activities are mostly focused on Pacific Island Nations. In this interview. Peter transports us to the villages where he works in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, sharing how he approaches his work successful in implementing water supplies, environmental monitoring and sanitation delivery projects.

Interview topics

  • Working on water and sanitation projects in PNG and Vanuatu.
  • Water management projects Peter is working on in PNG and Vanuatu.
  • Creating a holistic approach for a coordinated, integrated approach to project implementation.
  • Policy frameworks in PNG and Vanuatu.
  • Elders acting as facilitators
  • Learning the local language to communicate with the locals
  • Recommendations for donors planning on working in Vanuatu and PNG.

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  • Peter worked with Boyne Smelters and Rio Tinto at the beginning of his career. His current company, Axiom Water Technologies is an Australian Water Partner and works in the development sector in the Pacific. The Axiom website provides more details about their projects, including the work Peter is doing.
  • In the interview, he refers to the idea of the ‘radical centre’, which is a concept based on the writing of Indigenous leader Noel Pearson.
  • Peter discusses the need to learn the local language in order to work effectively in the Pacific. He talked about his efforts to learning Pidgin to improve how well he could interact with community members in PNG.
  • Peter talks about the role of traditional leadership and the modern governance systems and understanding how to manage both will help both donors and NGOs be more effective in the Pacific.
  • Understanding community knowledge for better donor fund allocation in the Pacific.
  • Why is it important to communicate with engineers effectively in the Pacific?
  • Developing community capacity and effective partnerships in the Pacific.
  • Building relationships with communities for effective WaSH in PNG.
  • Empowering communities to handle water plans in PNG.
  • Traditional leadership roles vs. state-appointed leaders.
  • PNGs overarching WaSH Policy for 2015-2030 clearly states the Government’s vision for their country in terms of sanitation and hygiene.
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene policy in PNG.


  • Spectroscopy: a measurement technique used to measure light emitted, absorbed and scattered by materials.
  • Noel Pearson’s ‘radical centre’: the centre representing the right combination of conservative, social and liberal ideas and insights.
  • Boyne Smelter: Australia’s largest aluminium smelter located in Gladstone on Boyne Island in Queensland.
  • Troubleshooting: a systematic approach to problem-solving often used to find and resolve complex issues.
  • Desalination; the process of removing salts and minerals from saline water to render it suitable for human consumption or irrigation.
  • GE Infrastructure — Water and Process Technologies: a global supplier of water and wastewater treatments solutions.
  • GHD: a consultancy providing services in water, energy and resources, environment and engineering.
  • Policy framework: a set of goals and principles that are the basis of making rules and guidelines for the planning and development of an organization or government.
  • Water resource management: the process of planning, developing, distributing and managing the optimum use of water resources.
  • Community assets: land or buildings like town halls, community centres, libraries, that are owned or managed by community organizations.
  • ADB: Asian Development Bank
  • DFAT: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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This interview and related content was originally part of the Kini Interview Series. Kini is a retired brand of the AWP and IWCAN.

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