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Global Issues in Water, Sanitation, and Health: Workshop Summary
Communities Develop Evidence Base forWater Quality Policies
Ashoka Fellow Prigi Arasandi works in 51 Indonesian villages with the goal of cleaning the water of the Surabaya River, a large drainage from the interior of East Java which is important to fisheries, more than 600 industrial sites, and the health of more than 5 million people. His approach, now 10 years in, is based on strong community involvement and regular communication with journalists (who are in turn interested in the broad-based community action). The citizen base, including children and adults, conduct water quality monitoring and testing. Using the data over several years from the community base, coupled with support from the media, policy changes through the legal system have become a reality. Specifically, the first ever lawsuit of its kind was won recently to require the governor to set a total maximum daily load for industrial pollutants and to implement a system to monitor that load.
Working as a bridge, efforts now between the Ashoka Fellow, the communities, and the governments are moving toward implementation and maintenance of new clean water standards by reducing untreated industrial and residential wastewater emissions into the river.
Community Leadership to Improve Sanitation
Ashoka Fellow Hamzah Harum Al’Rasyid works in poor urban areas in Indonesia to provide “community-based sanitation centers.” Mr. Al’Rasyid works with community members to identify a family willing (and sometimes eager) to learn how to operate a portable toilet facility as a small business. Before making the match, he listens to communities about how the technology would be accepted, and how it might be adapted to meet local needs. For example, the toilets for one particular facility were refitted in keeping with community comments. Raising awareness to the health benefits of reduced sewage on the streets is one of Mr. Al’Rasyid’s main objectives. If a community ultimately decides to adopt the technology, and if a family can be identified for training, the match is made. Initial experience shows success in reduced sewage in the streets, increased awareness of good sanitation practices, and sustained efforts. Furthermore, the network of facilities Mr. Al’Rasyid is developing offers promise for introducing other community-based services in the future, such as reverse osmosis clean water systems and local production of biogas for practical use in the communities.