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Better Drinking Water Access for Children’s Better Future

Human needs clean water to live. Polluted water is not only dirty and not suitable for consumption, but can also be harmful and even cause death. To improve the quality of life of the community and fulfill the basic rights of all the people, provision of guaranteed access to drinking water needs to be seriously considered as one of the national development priorities. Limited access to water can rob children of education and economic opportunities and prevent them from getting out of poverty. Due to distant access of water from home, children in remote areas often get the task to obtain water for their families too. This responsibility will take up their time which should be used for learning and playing. Safe and accessible water access will give them extra time so they can play like children in general and use the time to study for their future.

Infrastructure development is one of priorities in President Joko Widodo’s administration. Mr. President emphasized on various occasions how important infrastructure is for the progress of a nation, including as a basic foundation in economic growth and increasing the independence of a country. This also applies to the construction and development of drinking water infrastructure or commonly referred to as the Sistem Penyediaan Air Minum (Drinking Water Supply System) or SPAM.

Another challenge beside the lack of SPAM providers in rural areas is that the infrastructure used to distribute water in Indonesia is usually outdated, poorly maintained and prone to leakage. If the distribution system is damaged, water could be contaminated with waterborne disease organisms. The rapid rate of population growth also resulted in a gap between population and service coverage. Lack of local experts is often a barrier to creating more modern water treatment distribution system as well, which requires trained personnel for operations and maintenance.

Based on the performance appraisal conducted by the Agency for the Improvement of the Implementation of Drinking Water Supply Systems (BPPSPAM) towards 371 Regional Drinking Water Companies (PDAM) in 2016, they found that the number of PDAM in healthy condition was 198 (53%), 108 in unwell condition (29%), and 65 ailing (18% ) This condition is different from 2015, where 368 PDAMs were assessed and resulted in 196 (53%) PDAM in healthy condition, 100 unwell (27%), and 72 (20%) ailing. Whereas in 2014, of the 359 PDAM assessed, 182 (51%) were in healthy condition, 103 unwell (29%), and 74 (21%) ailing (BAPPENAS 2017). It can be concluded that from 2014 to 2016, the number of healthy PDAM increased only slightly, the number of unwell PDAM increased and the number of ailing PDAM decreased slightly. Another challenge for SPAM in Indonesia is that there are still many improvements needed from the government to maintain SPAM.

In accordance with Law No. 23 Year 2014 concerning Regional Government, drinking water supply is one of the main responsibility of regional government in regards of providing basic compulsory services. Along with the government development program, the funding aspect for the development of SPAM must also be the commitment and concern of the regional government. Nevertheless with limited local government funding and other development priorities, the central government also supports the development of SPAM in local regions through APBN, hence the SPAM infrastructure development gets joint funding from the regional government and the central government.

In addition to the APBN and APBD, the government also opens opportunities for business entities to support the development of SPAM through the mechanism of Public Private Partnership (PPP) listed in Government Regulation No. 122 Year 2015 concerning Drinking Water Supply Systems. The advantages of the PPP scheme include providing other financing alternatives due to limited government funding, more efficiency, getting new technology used by the private sector, and accelerating the increase of coverage and quality of public services. PPP scheme is expected to optimize investment costs, especially in urban areas where population growth is increasing rapidly. The ability of people in cities to pay which tends to be bigger is a strong reason for investors to invest, but what about people in remote areas who cannot afford it? The lack of conducive business climate has caused the private sector to be reluctant to develop SPAM in rural areas. As a result, the piping network and drinking water supply for the rural poor have received little attention from the government or the private sector.

One of the efforts to develop SPAM in Indonesia can be started from schools by providing drinking water installations to build habits and increase awareness to children, teachers, parents, and people around the school environment. The water filter system guarantees the cleanliness of water so it minimizes potential disease due to contaminated water. Children will also be able to set aside a portion of their pocket money to buy other necessities other than drinking water. This system is also easy to learn so that anyone can operate and maintain it. Application of Drinking Water Programs in schools can offer drinking water supply options to assist the government in both urban and remote areas, especially for children. With a good and affordable drinking water supply system, children will have the opportunity to develop their potential because they have more time to learn and play, so the hope of having a brighter future is greater as well.

Everyone Can Participate to Support SDGs

As a follow-up to the past 15-year Millennium Development Goals agenda, in September 2015 the United Nations launched a new, more universal, inclusive and comprehensive resolution called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs have 17 new goals to encourage sustainable development based on human rights and equality to encourage social, economic and environmental development. SDG number 6 aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of clean water and sanitation which one of its targets is to provide access to safe and affordable drinking water that is universally and evenly distributed to everybody in 2030.

Indonesia has committed to support the Sustainable Development Goals by adopting most of the SDGs targets and indicators into the National Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2020-2024. The integration of the global agenda into the RPJMN shows that the government is paying great attention to legitimizing and providing a legal basis for the implementation of the SDGs agenda in Indonesia.

In July 2017 President Jokowi has signed Presidential Regulation No. 59 of 2017 concerning Implementation of Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals that establish the structure and mechanisms for national SDGs management for planning, budgeting, financing, monitoring and reporting. In this regulation it is stated that one of the national targets of the 2015-2019 RPJMN is to increase access to safe drinking water for 40% of the lowest income population in 2019 to 100%.

The regulation is also a commitment to the implementation and achievement of SDGs carried out in a participatory manner by involving all parties. In accordance with the main principles of SDGs namely inclusion and participation, the importance of the role of non-government actors such as mass organizations, philanthropy, business actors, academics and other related parties is explained there. Various platforms at national and regional levels are needed to bring these non-government actors together and realize a real partnerships.

Non-governmental organizations have an important role in communicating SDGs to the public by making the policy process more transparent and easily accepted. One of the goals of increasing public awareness about SDGs is to empower communities to participate in solving problems around them and contribute to the SDGs.

Besides NGOs, the participation of various parties is a constituent part of sustainable development which is crucial for the realization of the agenda’s objectives by combining various sources of information, knowledge and expertise to generate new ideas, foster commitment for all parties involved, increase awareness of an issue and understand what challenges need to be resolved together.

Project Child Indonesia can be one of the platforms for the meeting of governments, investors, civil society and academics to achieve the goals of the 6th SDGs with the implementation of the Drinking Water Program (DWP). Since its implementation in 2016, DWP has had a positive impact on 29 schools in Yogyakarta, 4 schools in Fakfak, and will continue to be developed in various regions in Indonesia.

This program guarantees the availability of safe and affordable drinking water in schools with funds obtained from investors who care about this issue. Counseling in schools regarding the need for access to drinking water for all communities, the importance of getting enough drinking water for children, and the advantages of the water filter system in terms of health, financial and environmental are also provided by young volunteers who come from various universities in Indonesia and abroad.

The 2030 Agenda emphasizes on “integration” and “unity”, where goals and targets will not be achieved if all parties are working individually. A coherent and holistic approach involving various parties will improve the implementation of SDGs and contribute to the coherence of policies for sustainable development in order to create a civil society.


written by Hidayati Dwi Kusuma Pratiwi