Water and Sanitation Portfolio
ADRA works with communities to improve access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and to raise awareness of the importance of hand washing and waste management.
Lack of clean water and good sanitation, something that is often taken for granted, can debilitate entire villages with waterborne illnesses. By digging new wells and building sanitation systems, ADRA helps prevent many of the common medical problems that plague communities.
ADRA’s hygiene promotion team is creating awareness of the dangers of open defecation and the need for hygienic sanitation.Using Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) methods, ADRA staff use participatory methods to teach community members of the importance of each household having a latrine. ADRA staff use “triggering” meetings where the community is invited to confront the unpleasant facts about open defecation in their village.
ADRA’s CLTS trainers then make visits to households to advise people on how to build their own latrines out of locally available materials.
Of ADRA’s CLTS activities, Rita, a resident of Uma Quic resident, says, “Before ADRA’s involvement our lives were difficult and my feeling uneasy because two households used one toilet, but we were happy with the information that ADRA shared to us. Sometimes there are other jobs that inhibits us and we forgot about this program but we made some efforts to build our secure latrine for ourselves and this will be a good example for our children.”
Antonina, a 67 year old mother and grandmother, who lives in East Timor — situated just a short 60 minute flight from Darwin — knows all too well how vital access to clean water can be.
But this has not always been the case.
Antonina grew up in a poor rural family. Instead of going to school, she and her siblings would help their parents on their farm. One of their jobs was to fetch water.
Each day, Antonina and her siblings would make several trips to the river where they would dig a hole in the bank and wait for the water to settle. They would then scoop the water into jerry cans and carry it back up the steep hill towards home. This was an arduous task that took hours, but it was essential to their everyday life.
As years passed, Antonina married but still continued her daily task. She could see that the water collected, especially during the rainy season, was dirty and made her family sick, but it was their only source of drinking water. Without it they could not survive.
Can you imagine drinking water that you know would make you sick and not being able to do anything about it? The powerlessness of the situation is heart-breaking.
Then, Antonia’s life changed forever. In the mid-1970’s Portugal abandoned East Timor. The country went into turmoil and with the in-fighting among the local political parties Indonesia invaded the country. Seeing this and fearing for their safety, Antonina and her family fled to the jungle — at least there they could be safe.
However, living in the jungle was no easy task. Finding food and water was a struggle. Sometimes, if they were lucky, they would find cassava, greens or berries to eat. At other times they would go hungry for days. On top of this, the water they drank was polluted, gave them worms and weakened their already frail bodies.
Antonina knew that this was no way to bring up a young family but she had no choice, she had to protect her children from the dangers that lurked outside—and this seemed to be the only way to do it.
If life wasn’t hard enough, one day Antonina’s daughters Louisa, 3, and Maria, 2, came across a creek. Thirsty and tired they had a drink not knowing that further upstream a corpse was polluting the water. In a matter of hours their already malnourished and weak bodies began to crumble and eventually succumbed to illness. Antonina was devastated.
Isn’t this story just heart-breaking? But this is only a part of Antonina’s story.
Years later after Antonina’s family safely resettled in their hometown, another tragedy struck. Antonina’s husband of 23 years fell ill and after a week of vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration, he too passed away. Once again Antonina was faced with the grief of losing someone close to her because of unsafe water.
But now, Antonina no longer needs to worry about getting sick or losing another loved one to water-borne diseases. Thanks to the generous support of people like you, in 2011 ADRA was able to come into Antonina’s community and drill 12 boreholes, establish 12 water stations, build 250 latrines and provide health and sanitation education to 2,400 people.
Now Antonina is happy. She has access to clean drinking water and a clean water-sealed toilet. She only hopes that in the future every household in her community will have their own toilet and water source as currently there are more than 300 people for every water station.
Written by Alexandra Marek
In January 2012 ADRA Timor-Leste, Asia’s newest ADRA office, began its very first project, “Clean Water for Uma Tolu”. The goal was to provide clean water within a 2 minute walking distance to over 180 households.
Some of the villagers previously used shallow wells that a local laboratory declared to have e-coli levels “too numerous to count”. Other villagers had to walk up to 2 km to the river in order to wash and hand carry unclean river water to their homes for cooking and drinking.
Now that the 12 pump stations have been installed, each village chief and many villagers have expressed their joy and delight for having clean water so close to their homes. They say it tastes very good, and when they wash themselves it doesn’t make their skin itch, as did the water from their shallow wells.
Along with this water project, we also did hygiene education for women as well as in the local school. We had an overwhelming response from the women in each village who participated in the training. We targeted 280 women with direct training on hygiene but ended up with well over 450 attending! They all learned body hygiene, kitchen hygiene, and sanitation hygiene.
One villager, Maria Da Silva said, “My family used to drink dirty water from the river and would often get diarrhea from it. I would also use a lot of my time and energy to fetch water from the river at least twice a day and sometimes more. My family would never wash their hands before eating or after going to the toilet. [Now] it takes me a few minutes to get water and my family washes their hands regularly.”
Maria gratefully thanked ADRA for its work in Uma Tolu saying, “We are grateful that ADRA has brought clean water to our community. We feel free in using it to drink and to wash knowing that it will not make us sick and make our skin itchy. When I encourage my children to wash their hands, they actually understand why because ADRA did hygiene training at their school. ”
By Anita Sabot
PR and Finance