Monday, 30 June 2014

Improving sanitation – moulding a healthier future for Alor

by Sarah Grainger
The Ani family with sanitarian Tristiana Dewi (right) outside their new latrine
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Sarah Grainger

ADANG, NTT province, Indonesia, April 2014 - It’s an important week for the Ani family from Adang village on the island of Alor in Nusa Tengarra Timur province (NTT). Three days ago they finally finished building their new latrine.

It stands behind their brick and wood house surrounded by banana trees and undergrowth. The toilet is shielded from view by a simple structure made from wooden poles and plastic sheeting. But the latrine is among the most sophisticated in the village.

The components that make up the toilet bowl were moulded in calcium carbonate by a local mason. They’re mounted on a concrete base with an internal drain leading to a septic tank.

It’s a huge contrast with the family’s previous arrangement. “We used to share our neighbour’s toilet,” says Daniel, a hazelnut farmer, who lives with his wife Afliana and children Sri Yulianti, 14, and 11-year-old Adang Seprianus. “Sometimes we would even defecate in the jungle close to the house.”

The family decided to change late last year when they were visited by Tristiana Dewi, a health worker who specialises in sanitation.

She showed the village residents how their food and water became contaminated when people defecate in the open.

“We were ashamed,” says Daniel. “We decided we wanted the privacy of our own toilet.”

The Price of Sanitation

Triggering people to change their habits and enabling them to build cheap and healthy latrines is extremely important in NTT province. It has one of the highest rates of open defecation in Indonesia, a country second only to India for the number of people who still practice open defecation.

Poor sanitation leads to an increase in diarrhoeal diseases with diarrhoea rates being 66 % higher among young children from families practising open defecation in rivers or streams than among those in households with a private toilet facility and septic tank. Diarrhoea is also still a major killer of children in Indonesia: Around 31% of infant deaths and 25% of deaths among children between one and five years of age are caused by diarrhoea.

After Tristiana’s visit, Daniel began by digging the septic tank himself, but needed to save money for the toilet components.

Thanks to UNICEF, he was able to buy what he needed from his neighbour, a local mason, at a much lower price than he would find in the market.

Paulus Moll was one of 20 masons in Alor district who were trained by UNICEF in December in how to produce cheap toilet components using a simple mould.

Paulus moulds parts for a new toilet watched by his wife Rosalina and 2-year-old son William
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Sarah Grainger

It takes about a day to make each one and Paulus charges 75,000 Indonesian rupiah (US$6.5) compared to the 180,000 rupiah (US$15.5) price in the market in Kalabahi, 30kms away.

“So many people want to buy one, and I only have one mould,” says Paulus. “I have a waiting list at the moment of about 20 people.”

UNICEF has also trained Paulus in how to market his toilets. He visits communities to present his products and talks about the cost and the quality of the items.

“It’s a good opportunity for me to earn some extra income,” says Paulus, who also works in construction.


Tristiana Dewi at her office in the Puskesmas, health centre
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Sarah Grainger

From her base at the Puskemas (health centre) in Kokar, Tristiana travels to Adang by motorbike. She monitors eight other villages too, noting periodically how many families are building and using latrines.

She says her visits and Paulus’ cheap toilet components have encouraged many households to build their own latrine. The proportion of households in Adang using a latrine has increased from around 27% to 92%.

Thanks to support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Unilever, UNICEF is rolling out the masonry training project in South Sulawesi, NTT and Papua provinces.