“Every family had to send someone to walk for an hour to collect water …”

CWS Indonesia | September 20, 2018

Mateos collecting water for his family at the Oe Susanta spring. Photo: CWS

Collecting water from the newly protected Oe Sustana spring. Photo: CWS

Mateos Missa, who is 33, chairs the Oe Sustana Water User Committee in West Timor. He is a farmer and lives in Nitutoli hamlet in Saenam village with his wife, Yufita Sio, their toddler, Mercy and their newborn, Misa. In Nitutoli there are 83 families – about 400 people in all. As Chair of the Water User Committee, Mateos has a challenging job – and, fortunately, because of Saenam’s partnership with CWS, it is a bit less daunting these days. Until now the water supply condition in the Nitutoli hamlet has been very difficult, especially during the dry season. Mateos’s family, like others, could only get enough water for cooking and drinking – not bathing. Before “we only showered once a week,” Mateo recalls. “We mostly only washed our faces; or, when we went fishing, we would bathe in the ocean. That’s salt water, though, so we didn’t really feel clean. Families with newborns would bathe their babies every day with clean water, like we did with Misa. But, every family had to send someone to walk for an hour to collect water from the spring, where it took up to 10 minutes to fill just one 5-liter container.”

NOTE: 5 liters of water weigh 11 pounds.

Another part of Mateos chat with CWS staff showed that everyone using the spring had to deal with the water being unprotected and often filled with leaves, dirt and animal waste. And, to make things worse in a place where water is so scarce, the fact that there was no tank to collect the water meant it would simply run off and be wasted. Also, by the final months of the nine-month long dry season, only one spring, Oe Sustana, has water – and it is very little water, at that. So, it could take up to an hour to fill that single 5-liter container. Families started queueing from 3:00 a.m. and some did not get a chance to fill their jerry cans or buckets until 11:00 p.m. To change this awful situation, in May 2018 CROP-supported work to protect the spring and build a 2.5 cubic meter concrete tank started with community members contributing their labor, tools and wood, plus transportation and meals during construction times. Importantly, to conserve Nitutoli’s scarce water, Mateos led the Water User Committee and others through a discussion and to an agreement to control water use. Now, water can be collected during four to six hours each day; two or three hours in the morning and again in the evening. This helps ensure that enough water is stored in the tank, so all 83 households have their right to water met.

“We are very happy and thankful to CWS for the support because now the quantity and quality of water at the Oe Sustana spring have improved; it is much cleaner now that it is protected. And no water is wasted as it is being saved in the tank. Filling our containers is much faster now and we don’t have to queue from early morning to late night. Finally, we can use the water not only for cooking and drinking; now we can also shower more than once a week if we need to, which is great.” – Mateos Missa

(For more information please contact mkoeniger@cwsglobal.org )

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