Red Cross works hand in hand with communities to provide safe drinking water

Published: 29 August 2016 9:22 CET

By Paulus Enggal, IFRC

The villagers of Pengandan Baru in East Kalimantan have long understood the importance of having a clean and safe water supply in their community.

When the Indonesian Red Cross Society (Palang Merah Indonesia), supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Korean National Red Cross, Samsung and Community Chest of Korea arrived with plans to build a safe water infrastructure, the villagers did not hesitate to lend a hand with the construction work.

The construction of this new water supply facility is part of a Red Cross programme which also includes the promotion of good hygiene practices for 2,500 residents in the village. Through the Village Community Empowerment Agency, the Red Cross is able to work closely with villagers to ensure that the water supply infrastucture is built according to their exact specifications and needs.

“The members of this Agency, who were selected by the villagers, have been involved in this process since our assessment teams arrived to determine how best to build the water supply infrastructure,” said 34-year-old Rusliansyah, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Programme Coordinator for the Indonesian Red Cross. “They have helped us conduct a survey within the village, to map water resources, and to design water facilities and pipes.”

Didik Yoga Gutama, the Chairman of the Village Community Empowerment Agency in Pengandan Baru said that communities still find it difficult to get clean water despite the availability of water sources. “Last year we collected monetary contributions from the communities to build a water container but it stopped due to a shortage of funds,” the 42-year-old explained. “We welcome the Red Cross’ offer to build this water supply infrastructure and will help in whatever way we can.”

The Agency meets once a month to discuss their progress with the construction work and to solve any issues that need to be addressed. “We keep close contact with the Red Cross and meet them when they visit the village to ensure that everything goes smoothly,” Didik said. 

The Agency’s involvement was especially useful as they are familiar with the area and know the history of the village’s water sources.

“They could identify which water sources go dry during the dry season, and which ones come from a river or wellspring,” said Dedy Satya, a 20-year-old Red Cross volunteer in the East Kutai Regency.

Apart from community support, the Red Cross also received help from the local government. “We used data from the Health Office to identify which areas needed assistance and coordinated with the Public Works Office and a state owned company, PDAM, to determine which areas have already been chosen to receive a water infrastructure.” Rusliansyah said.  “The Red Cross programme acts as a model for the local government to build and implement clean water and sanitation facilities in future.”

The programme will also be replicated in other villages and schools, and will be implemented in the provinces of East Kalimantan and East Java in the next two years.