Water Matters

CWS Indonesia | September 13, 2017

Yabes Tefa (right) with her daughter. Photo: CWS

The 30 families in Eonfetnai hamlet in West Timor, Indonesia live, like many other villagers in the area, is a drought prone area. Until 2013, the hamlet had only one water source – an unprotected spring that, when it filled up, was contaminated by dirt, falling leaves and animal droppings. In the dry season, there was little or no water at all, and families spent a lot of time collecting water from distant scarce source.

In recent years, because of key donors, including CROP Hunger Walk groups, and others through the years, CWS has been able to reach hamlets like Eonfetnai through Timor Zero Hunger, which is an integrated community development project to help some of Indonesia’s poorest families improve their lives.

In Eonfetnai, as in hamlets across West Timor and, indeed, the world over, lack of clean water, or any water at all, has many bad consequences, especially for young children, who are most affected by conditions like diarrhea and severe skin rashes that come in different ways from dirty water. The consequences for entire communities are complex and really hard to address – especially when people are very poor and uninformed about possible ways to improve their sanitation, hygiene and overall wellbeing.

Now, with CWS support, Eonfetnai families have been able to protect their spring with a cover and build a cement tank to collect the water. Since the spring shelter and water tank were build several years ago, there has been no water shortage. And, once water was flowing and accessible for all families, the Timor Zero Hunger activities to help families learn about proper hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and environmental health, were meaningful – because they all rely a lot on having clean water.

Remembering the times before they had their safe and plentiful water, Yabes Tefa, who is a young farmer, recalls that her then 4-year old daughter, “Sifralili, was often sick with diarrhea because I had no water and could not keep our home in a hygienic way. Also, because we had no water, we rarely ate vegetables because we
couldn’t plant a garden and, back then, we could not afford to buy them in the market, either.” So, for Yabes, enough safe, nearby water has meant less time spent collecting water and more time for other things like planting vegetables and making organic fertilizer – both of which she was able to do with additional CWS support.
To increase their own successes, Yabes and other women in Eonfetnai created a farmer’s group and divided a shared garden into two sections: one for vegetables to be used for family meals and one for vegetables to be sold in the market. “Now, we can make 200,000 Rupiah ($15) every week from selling vegetables in the market,” said Yabes. And, with diversified CWS support, in April 2017 the group expanded to raising chickens to help ensure more diverse diets, especially for their children. The group members learned how to build chicken coops, make chicken feed, and how to hatch chickens in a simple incubator. “Now I have more than 50 chickens!” says Yabes proudly. “At the moment, I don’t have any plans to sell the chickens, only the eggs – for 2,500 Rupiah (18¢) each – and, so far, I have used some of my profit to renovate our latrine so it is sanitary, which I learned how to do with help from the CWS team.

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

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