Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Malang
"I only want to see the people in this village live healthy lives, with soil and water pollution eradicated so they can enjoy a clean environment," said Sunaryo, 50, a resident of the remote village of Boro Utarae in Curungrejo subdistrict of Malang regency.
Sunaryo, who only graduated from elementary school, said this was the reason he had generously donated some of his own land to a sanitation project.
"I want to let everybody use my land, provided they all benefit," he said as he accompanied The Jakarta Post to witness the construction of a giant septic tank in the backyard of his home.
Sunaryo donated a 12-by-22 square-meter garden block located behind his home to a community project.
Until the end of the 1980s, residents depended on the Brantas River for their water supply and as a place to dispose of human waste.
When people wanted water or needed to go to the toilet, the Brantas River was usually their destination. The community group head said 103 family households, or around 400 inhabitants in the village, did not have their own household toilet facilities.
"It was easy; when residents wanted a bath or needed to do their washing or go to the toilet, they would just head for the Brantas River," said Aspali, 42, a villager who supported the project.
Aspali said if the villagers were too lazy to walk to the river they would use the nearby fields.
These unsanitary habits were assumed to be the cause of polluted well water, as the wells absorbed harmful organisms that caused outbreaks of diarrhea and vomiting in the area.
As well as the resident's lack of awareness for the need for proper sanitation facilities, the geographical features of the land prevented easy access to clean water, Sunaryo said.
So, the villagers found it difficult to obtain water to fulfill their daily needs.
"It wasn't just a matter of building toilets, as villagers also had difficulty in finding clean water to drink," he said.
A few people attempted to search for water by drilling and building bathing, laundry and toilet facilities.
However, not many were successful. They had to dig more than 35 meters into the soil to find water and spent millions of rupiah on building the facilities.
Others who were less fortunate could not afford to build such facilities.
This situation caught the attention of the Environmental Services Program (ESP), a USAID project working on the development of community-based sanitation facilities in poor areas.
Together with the Malang Regency government, the ESP made funds available for a cost-sharing project to build a proper sanitation system that could be used by the whole community. The overall fund reached Rp 475 million (US$52,000), with Rp 200 million provided by the local government.
"There are many other locations proposing similar developments but we saw Curungrejo as the most prepared area, both in terms of the community's attitude and available land," said Bintoro W Prabowo, ESP's public outreach/communications specialist.
In November 2006, construction of a massive septic tank designed to handle waste from 200 households began. The project was scheduled for completion in January 2008.
The local government and ESP contributions were used to fund the construction of a giant septic tank measuring 5-by-15 meters and with a depth of 3.2 meters. The money was also used to build toilets for 103 households.
"Every family will get a water closet. Every closet will be connected to the main system through PVC piping. Then the waste will flow to the massive septic tank," said Aspali, pointing to a stack of toilet pedestals still wrapped in packaging.
Aspali said he was happy, as his home, and around 103 other households, would soon have their own water closets.
The residents' spirits were raised even higher after learning the regional water company in Malang Regency would guarantee a supply of clean piped water to their homes, as part of the sanitation program.
"Currently, almost half of the family water closets are functioning and the installation of the plumbing system is ongoing," said Ristine Aprilia, a community-based water supply and sanitation specialist with ESP.
Ristine said the residents were asked to participate in the project by donating money, so they would have a sense of ownership of the plumbing system and help maintain the community septic tank.
A total of Rp 5 million was collected from the residents.
"The money was given back to the villagers to be managed by themselves, so they felt a sense of ownership. They then used the money to pay a security guard and a maintenance man to run the septic tank," Ristine said.
"The residents are also able to benefit through selling waste collected from inside the septic tank ... which can be used as fertilizer."
Bintoro said data collected by the ESP revealed around 100,000 toddlers in Indonesia died every year due to diarrhea; this figure breaks down to 273 infants per day, or 11 deaths per hour.
The cause of diarrhea is the e-coli bacteria, which is transmitted from human feces to toddlers' stomachs through contaminated food and water.
Over the past 30 years, the Indonesian government has only been able to supply around US$840 million in aid to build sanitation systems across the country.
"This means the state allocation for sanitation was only Rp 200 (US$ 0.02) per year per person. This is far from ideal. For Indonesia, it is estimated the allocation should be around Rp 47,000 (US$5) per citizen per year," said Bintoro, citing ESP data.
ESP is now actively campaigning for the initiation of community-based sanitation projects in the greater Malang region (Malang City, Malang Regency Malang and Batu City), and is working together with local regency and city governments. Construction is underway in two other locations."This work will continue.
The most important thing is for the community to be aware of their needs. At least, there has to be someone like Pak Sunaryo."
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Massive tank solution for village waste in Malang
Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Malang