Water is not only important to the health and economic well being of communities is it also an important part of communal life in rural Indonesia. Such activities as bathing, washing clothes, and abulation are done in shared spaces. IRD helps communities develop low cost, sanitary facilties that maintain these traditions of communal living. In Aceh, IRD has helped to build 13 bathing/ washing stations, 90 communal latrines, 8 ablution stations, and 148 public tap stands.
IRD utilizes a community-based approach, with strong community involvement in the identification, planning and implementation process, including management and maintenance. Our goal is to facilitate cost-effective, sustainable solutions that maximize the number of beneficiaries and can be easily maintained for years to come.
Engaging the Community from the Start
IRD begins by meeting with local government, village heads, and community leaders to ensure all stakeholders understand the activity and have the opportunity to get involved. Volunteers are requested to participate in the initial mapping and data collection exercises. Once IRD completes in-depth, independent data collection through home visits and focus group discussions, it presents the resulting community profile in a community meeting for validation and enrichment. The type, location and plan for the communal facilities are agreed upon by mutual consensus within the community. IRD also works with the community to ensure that the benefit is fairly maximized for as many people as possible while ensuring that proper hygiene standards are met.
Forming the Core Group and Water Sanitation Committee
A Core Group of volunteers is established in each village to organize and oversee the community’s involvement in the program. Members include the village leader, religious leaders, women’s leaders, healthcare providers, school principals, and youth representatives. The Core Group works with IRD to finalize the recommended sanitation solution for presentation to the community. The core group is also responsible for health and hygiene promotion, monitoring project progress, and maintaining village-level water and sanitation facilities.
A Water Sanitation Committee is formed under the Core Group. This committee is responsible for coordinating and participating in the implementation of the project as well as the ongoing maintenance and operation in each village after project completion.
Constructing Communal Facilities
The community is involved in the construction of the facilities to the maximum extent possible. Each village Core Group organizes a “Gotong Royong” through which it recruits fellow villagers to undertake construction. IRD provides materials and the necessary tools that stay with the village after project completion. IRD staff mentor the community throughout the process.
For specific tasks such as plumbing or masonry, the village head will typically find someone to complete those tasks. However, if even greater technical expertise is required, IRD will engage local professional contractors. IRD holds a transparent, competitive tendering process to identify and engage these contractors. All stakeholders are represented in the bidding and selection process.
When constructing communal facilities, local practices and customs are particularly important considerations. For instance, ablution stations are generally built at night so as not to disturb the community’s daily religious routine. Local practices are also important for the placement and construction of public tap stands. The most accessible and fair placement of these is often along the main road of the village. The source for the tap stand may be a drilled well and distributed either by pumping or with a gravity-fed distribution network.
Enhancing Local Capacity and Ensuring Sustainability
The communal facilties will be maintained by the Water Sanitation Committee to ensure their proper operation and longevity. IRD provides training to both the Core Groups and the Water Sanitation Committees to support this. Training for the Core Groups cover such things as community facilitation, health and hygiene promotion, basic contstruction, plumbing, and monitoring.
The Water Sanitation Committee receives more technical training to equip them with the capacity to operate and maintain the public facilities. IRD also works with the committee to become a more formal institution that has a constitution, by-laws and management policies and is recognized by the district government. To strengthen this institution, the committee receives management and organizational training including administration and financial management.
A tarriff system is adopted to ensure cost recovery for operation and maintenance expenses and is managed by the Water Sanitation Committee. Each household’s tarriff is based on its level of consumption and collected on a regular basis. In some cases, the communities may decide to implement a sliding scale where poorer and/or women-headed households may pay less and commercial entitites may pay more. However, this is for the communities to decide.
Another important component of sustainability is the communities’ use of proper health and hygiene practices; without proper hygiene communal and household water points can easily become contaminated. Each village Core Group has members who are trained by IRD in health and hygiene promotion. These members in turn teach their neighbors and encourage the use of these practices throughout the community.
The Core Group and the Water Sanitation Committee also receive training in monitoring and evaluation. Once the project is completed, they will conduct their own monitoring to ensure that the water facilities are being used and maintained properly, and that the community continues good hygiene practices and that this knowledge is being passed on to the next generation. IRD staff will also return after project completion to evaluate the quality of the project’s continued operation.