The Herald and World Vision want to raise $100,000 for the urgent water and sanitation needs in the Hanuabada village of Port Moresby, and World Vision wants your long-term support for ongoing work in the Pacific. Each day we'll be reporting on a particular problem for the region and showcasing how World Vision has helped. Today, the battle for clean water.

Two children stand on the side of the track in dense bush, staring at us with stomachs bloated from malnutrition, an ominous sign for the village ahead.

Visitors are rare in these parts, especially ones with our pigmentation, and I can hear children yelling excitedly 'White man, WHITE MAN!', as we approach.

The village of Tumnung in Papua New Guinea, made me really question the definition of isolation.

On a good day, it's a three-hour drive deep into the bush from the town of Bogia on the northern coast. During the wet season it can be completely cut off.

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Here is a community of 161 people accessible only after hours of driving on muddy, often impassable roads, cut off from basics like power, reliable transport and phone reception.

It is home to a structure of relatives, neighbours, teachers, leaders, young and old forming a tight, almost self-sufficient group, doing their best to get by.

Read more: Hidden Pacific: Q&A

But when you are so self-reliant, so remote, just one thing going wrong can have a devastating effect on the whole village, as the people of Tumnung discovered last year.

Severe drought brought on by an extreme El Nino event in 2015 and 2016 caused their only well to run dry. The next nearest source of clean water was an hour's walk each way.

When there was water in the well it was brown and dirty, sitting in an open hole, dug into the soft brown dirt, the surface littered with leaves and insects. This filthy water a harbinger of the disease which spread from it throughout the village.

A lack of clean water and poor sanitation and hygiene are major contributors to child malnutrition in Papua New Guinea.

This causes stunting, where severe and prolonged malnutrition makes children shorter than normal for their age and affects their emotional, social and cognitive development.

In Papua New Guinea, where 60 per cent of the population don't have access to clean water, half of all children are stunted.

Kids from the village of Tumnung. Photo / Mike Scott
Kids from the village of Tumnung. Photo / Mike Scott

Thankfully for Tumnung, this dirty open pit is no longer used. Just metres away a new well was installed by World Vision as part of a response to the El Nino event.

Its sealed top and manually operated Rus handpump provide much cleaner water that benefits everyone.

The villagers tell me that since the new pump arrived they've noticed far fewer cases of diarrhoea and dysentery.

They talk excitedly, proudly even, about something simple that would be taken for granted elsewhere, yet has improved the lives of almost everyone in this small pocket of isolation.

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