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    Water & Sanitation

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Project Background

SurfAid works in remote areas in Indonesia, where diarrhoea is common. Nias, Mentawai and Sumba are beautiful holiday and surfing destinations, however, infant and maternal mortality rates are much higher than national averages.  Behind the palms of some of the world’s most famed surfing destinations are villages so remote that basic government services don’t reach them. There is no clean water, health services, or electricity.

All of SurfAid’s programs begin with clean water. Once access to clean water is established, SurfAid focuses on health education and behaviour change to improve sanitation and hygiene.

The survival and healthy development of children requires sanitary environments. In areas where SurfAid works, many people don’t use toilets; this is called “open defecation”.  Defecating in fields, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces causes diseases like cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea, worm infestation and undernutrition. Every day, over 800 children under five die from avoidable diarrhoea-related diseases worldwide. 

Relentless bouts of illness keep people trapped in poverty; parents unable to work, and children unable to attend school. Chronic illness significantly contributes to malnutrition, stunting physical and cognitive development.

Project Overview

 Access to clean and safe toilets is imperative, as are changing sanitation behaviours of entire communities. Even if just one person in a village continues to practice open defecation, the whole community is at risk for contamination. Consequently, a large part SurfAid’s work is educational. Once toilets are built, SurfAid works with villages to generate awareness, share information and instigate behaviour change so that toilets are used properly and consistently, with hand washing afterwards.

Together, toilets, clean water and hygiene saves lives. Washing hands properly, by using soap under flowing water, can prevent approximately 1 out of every 3 illnesses in young children caused by diarrhoea. This important sanitation practice can also eliminate 1 in 6 respiratory infections like childhood pneumonia.

SurfAid's project will benefit 2,592 people (492 households) in 8 remote communities in Indonesia (Sumba: Patiala Dete, Harona Kala and Wetana villages; Pagai Selatan Island, Mentawai: Laggigi, Maurau, and Kinumbuk villages; Nias Island: Hiliduho and Gido villages.

Project Activities

SurfAid uses the well-established Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) methodology. CLTS helps rural communities realise the negative impacts of poor sanitation and empowers them to collectively find solutions to their inadequate sanitation.

CLTS focuses on igniting changes in sanitation behaviour, not just constructing toilets. A process of social awakening around sanitation is stimulated by facilitators from within the community. Community members will be trained by SurfAid, and will be grouped into Water and Sanitation Committees (WSC).  

The CLTS approach concentrates on the entire community, rather than on individual behaviour. The first significant objective of the CLTS model is to end Open Defecation (OD). It begins with a ‘triggering’ exercise, which is an inclusive process that enables villages to do their own sanitation profile through appraisal, observation and analysis of their OD behaviours. After analysing where defecation occurs, the community collectively learns the negative impact the practice has on the entire village.

Once community members are ‘triggered’ into action, they will build toilets themselves, using local and simple materials, but in line with hygiene and sanitation standards. SurfAid will provide training on how to build toilets, but the community members construct them.

Key Project Objectives

The core project objectives are:

  • Improve community hygiene and sanitation knowledge. 
  • Achieve “open defecation free” (ODF) status for villages.
  • Increase the number of toilets and achieve ODF status.
  • Improve the coaching skills of health volunteers and water and sanitation committee members to support toilet construction in their communities.

These objectives will be realised through:

1. Training and coaching on:

  • CLTS
  • Sanitation & Hygiene
  • Safe toilet construction

2. Production of health promotion materials such as: 

  • Videos
  • Posters
  • Booklets

Community Involvement

All of SurfAid’s programs employ a philosophy of a “hand up, not a hand out”. To achieve this, SurfAid works to empower communities through training and behaviour change.

In this project, groups of community health volunteers (kaders) and water and sanitation committee members work together with the local health department to deliver health messages on hygiene and sanitation to their neighbours. They are SurfAid’s frontline, receiving ongoing training and support from SurfAid staff.

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