Improving Hygiene in Indonesia

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Posted on 7/1/2013

Poor sanitation is a serious problem in Indonesia. Much of the country's population lacks access to adequate latrine facilities, and in some rural areas, open defecation is still practiced by many people. This poses a major threat to public health, and preventable diseases like diarrhea can be a risk to the lives of children living in poverty. Many child development agencies like ChildFund are working to improve sanitation in Indonesia, as without access to sufficient toilet facilities and clean water, poor sanitation will continue to be a barrier to a better life for many families.

Taking Action

In some parts of Indonesia, societal norms do not place great emphasis on the importance of sanitation and good hygiene. This can cause a range of issues, such as the transmission of preventable disease and other health conditions stemming from dirty water. However, as a result in part due to ChildFund's local health program, which emphasizes handwashing, one community in Kulonprogo, Central Java, has taken a proactive approach to solving this problem by building a water facility outside its early childhood development center.

"Children always enjoy playing here," says Sriyatun, a tutor at the ECD center in Kulonprogo. "It isn't healthy to wash your hands using water from a bucket, as the water gets dirtier the more people use it. Also, as we should always use running water and soap when we wash our hands to prevent illnesses such as diarrhea, we thought this idea would work."

Sriyatun and other volunteers built a water dispensing unit outside the ECD center to enable children to wash their hands using running water. Although the water itself still has to be fetched from elsewhere, it is a much more efficient solution than using the running water at the neighboring mosque. Now, children can play and wash their hands before meals, reducing the risk of contracting and transmitting diarrhea and other illnesses.

Proactive Approaches

One of the key challenges in improving sanitation throughout Indonesia is engaging communities that may not have sufficient resources to contribute to shared goals and projects. However, according to the World Bank, several entrepreneurial programs have not only improved sanitation in rural areas, but also provided local people with a means of income.

Warga, a former farmer, is one such individual. Thanks to funding from the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program, Warga now runs his own business building and installing septic systems. Warga's entrepreneurial spirit has not only provided a better life for his family but also reduced open defecation in his community.

"I am very happy with my life now," says Warga. "Not only has my new business boosted my family income, but I am also helping make my village become healthier."

Projects like this one have had a tremendous impact on the quality of life for these communities. In some cases, incidences of diarrhea in children has decreased by as much as 30 percent.

Ongoing Support

Data from the World Bank suggests Indonesia's population is growing at a rate of approximately 1.3 percent every year. As the population rises, the need to maintain the momentum we have established will become greater.

One of the best ways you can help us continue our work to improve sanitation in Indonesia is by becoming a monthly giving partner. Your support and generosity will enable us to provide ongoing support to children in need and their communities, as well as implement new initiatives to help even more people. Our Essentials for Survival fund provides people living in some of the poorest countries in the world with vital necessities like clean water and medical care that they need to survive. Please consider joining us in the fight against inadequate sanitation.