Clean water flowing in Indonesia

Australians take clean water for granted, but in many countries, it’s a luxury.

In Indonesia, 4 out of 5 mothers have no option but to give their families bacteria-infected water because of polluted wells. In one Indonesian community World Vision is addressing water concerns.

Indonesia has some of the world’s worst sanitation. In 2004, UNICEF found that 53.4% of Indonesian families used a water source located within 10 metres of an open toilet. 

This falls short of the universal standard for water safety. Water in this proximity to a toilet is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria that cause diarrhoea, typhoid and other water-borne diseases.

The isolated East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province in Indonesia faced particularly large challenges. Piping was limited, so some families sourced their water from wells more than an hour’s walk away - and these wells were often polluted. 

In 2005, 38.1% of children under five in the province suffered from diarrhoea. 

That year, World Vision began a project with the NTT community to provide information about the importance of good hygiene and sanitation. School classes emphasised the importance of basic hygiene so children would bring this knowledge home to their families. A media campaign and prizes for best sanitation practices also helped get word out. 

As well as providing advice on safe water sources, World Vision worked with the NTT community to improve their water supply. World Vision assisted in building 25km of gravitational piping, a water reservoir, five water tanks and toilets in more than 800 households. 

And the results? Today, 75% of households have toilets. This has greatly helped to separate waste and clean water. Surveys show that knowledge about basic hygiene has improved throughout the area. 

Most importantly, diarrhoea in children under five has virtually quartered. In 2008, there were only 11.7% infected. 

Effecting change in a province is difficult, but World Vision wants to make water safe across Indonesia and the world.