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Water & Sanitation
Sumba, an increasingly popular holiday and surfing destination in Eastern Indonesia, is Australia’s closest northern neighbour, and yet sits among the poorest provinces in Indonesia. Remote from Indonesia’s commercial and government centres, Sumba is environmentally and economically vulnerable. As a result of limited economic opportunity, people in Sumba are subsistence farmers, however, low rainfall means their water supply is insufficient.
SurfAid is working with villages in Laboya Barat sub-district to protect existing water sources, and build communal holding tanks and tap stands within 800 metres of every person’s home. Building on the success of SurfAid’s previous water projects in Sumba, this project will expand access to water to an additional five communities (Podarere, Namu Ole, Matawee Kadoki, and Katamawee) and reach 233 households (1,048 people).
This project implemented a mix of practical support, education and health promotion activities that transformed poor health behaviours into positive behaviours, thereby providing access to water and reducing death and disease.
By improving access to water, sanitation practices, hygiene knowledge and nutrition outcomes, these complementary activities boost overall health. Though at the centre of these inter-related interventions is access to water. Water meets not only consumption requirements but enables SurfAid to implement hand-washing campaigns that improve sanitation and hygiene and reduce preventable disease. Frequent hand-washing with soap and safe storage of drinking water are relatively low-cost, yet high impact practices.
The Footprints grant contributed to increasing access to clean water from 1,230 people to 3,168 people, which enabled us to increase hand-washing with soap and running water from 14% to 41%. Ultimately this practise contributed to a decrease in diarrhoea rates from 43% to only 5%.
Renovations and New Water Facilities
Renovation of previously built but unmaintained transmission pipes in Namu Ole and Katamawee:
Building new transmission pipes in Podarere and Matawee Kadok:
The Water and Sanitation Committees
Based on organisational experience and development expertise, water facilities will be accessed and sustained if the following is in place: there is genuine demand from the community, the community participates in every key decision, and the community understands and agrees that the maintenance of the water facilities is their own responsibility.
Community involvement and ownership in every step of the implementation of the project is crucial for the sustainability of the facilities. In line with SurfAid’s ‘hand up, not a handout’ approach, the communities help build the facilities. The communities provided local materials, such as sand, gravel, and labour and SurfAid provided the technical expertise and materials not locally available.
However, locals contribute to building the water facilities on top of their regular work and many cultural activities, so construction would sometimes start in the late afternoon and continue until midnight.
In both Podarere and Mataew Kadoki, where the water project took place, SurfAid established and trained a community group to ensure all facilities are well maintained and water is flowing well. These Water & Sanitation Committees (WSCs) consist of 11 people (10 men + 1 woman) at Matawe Kadoki and 12 people (11 men + 1 woman) at Podarere. The WSCs play an important role in planning, managing, maintaining and coordinating the labour for the water facilities. WSC training was provided by a SurfAid engineer and was both technical (how to build, maintain and fix water facilities) as well as administrative (how to organise meetings and simple bookkeeping). WSCs were also trained on building simple latrines and protecting water sources from rubbish, animals and other pollutants.
The SurfAid engineer designed the water facilities, coordinated the volunteer work with the WSC and trained the WSC on the job. He designed a water system, using simple technology (mainly gravitation systems) which pipes the water from a protected water source via a main reservoir, to a smaller community reservoir which feeds several water points and taps. The (spilled) water from the taps flows into a grey water collection point, where it can be used for watering gardens or livestock. Further, it includes a rubbish bin that also serves as a mini incinerator, so the small sachets of soap can immediately be burned to keep the water facility clean.
SurfAid uses a hand up, not a hand out approach in all our development projects. In the spirit of the Indonesian concept of “Gotong Royong”, which means voluntary communal work, all construction projects are completed by local members of the community. Materials that are locally available are donated by the villages, with materials not available in the community being sourced by SurfAid.
Not only do the community participate in the construction of the projects, they are trained to maintain the water and sanitation systems. This collaborative approach ensured skills were developed locally, and expertise exists within the communities. Building local capacity also means the communities do not become dependent on SurfAid for repairs and maintenance.
Long term maintenance costs are covered by fees collected from users by the established water committees and additional funding from local government.
This project contributed to SurfAid’s overall “Healthy Village” program in Sumba, which aims to bring clean water, improved sanitation, nutrition gardens and health promotion to 4,524 people in Sumba.