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The Crisis of Clean Water in the Riverbank Residents

by: Nadya Haira
Teaching Learning Assessor intern (Sekolah Sungai)


The rise of population growth has prompted higher water use. The necessity for good quality water means not just any readily available water but that which can be used to fulfill daily needs, such as drinking, bathing, washing clothes, washing dishes, and gardening. Moreover, the needs of water has also increased.

The main sources of river water pollution/contamination in Indonesia come from domestic or household waste, generally in the form of feces, dish and clothing detergents, animal excrements, and fertilizers from plantations and farms. There are also traces in the water supply of medical drug contamination from sources such as birth control pills to pesticides and oil. Filth and urine waste contamination have played a role in increasing the levels of E. coli bacteria within the water. In big cities such as Jakarta and Yogyakarta, the levels of E. coli are outside the normal range not only in the river but also in the underground well water in the areas where residents live. Contaminated water such as those seen in Indonesia can cause different sorts of diseases, such as: Diarrhea, Hepatitis A, Lead poisoning, Malaria, and Polio.

According to WHO, in every year there are 1.7 million kids who die from diarrhea brought by an unhealthy environment, mainly because of contaminated water. In Indonesia, clean water is a provision ensured in Article 33 UUD 1945 passage (3) which peruses “Earth and water and the natural resources contained therein are controlled by the state and are utilized for the greatest prosperity of the general population”.

“Bumi dan udara dan sumber daya alam yang terkandung di dalam didukung oleh negara dan digunakan untuk kemakmuran terbesar rakyat”.

More recently, the policy was emphasized in Law No. 23 of  2014 concerning Regional Government, reaffirming that fulfillment of clean water for the community is one of the responsibility and obligations of the administration and local government as part of the public services.

The National Socio-Economic Survey (Susenas) by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) noticed an expansion in households which have access to decent drinking water sources in Indonesia. In 2012 just 65.05 percent of households units had access to decent drinking water sources. In 2014, 68.11 percent of households had such access. This figure rose again in 2017 to 72.04 percent. The low access to clean water was because of problems in the implementation of drinking water and sanitation. On a global scale the problems are:

(a) The scale of the need – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene to Half the World’s Population.

The slight scale of the issue is a test in itself. It will be no little accomplishment for half the world’s population to get sustained access to safe water, essential sanitation and great good hygiene practices (and to do as such in 15 years). In fact, critical institutions like health care facilities and schools lack water and sanitation. A study in 54 low- and middle-income countries found that 38% of health care facilities lack access to an improved water source, 19% lack sanitation and 35% do not have water and soap for handwashing (World Health Organization & United Nations’ Children’s Fund, 2015). The scale of the need will increase, especially as populations grow, available freshwater is utilized and polluted at increasing rates and the climate changes.

(b) Maintaining Long-Term Water, Sanitation and Cleaning Services

The focus over the past few decades has been on water and sanitation infrastructure. This approach requires a highly educated, skilled workforce and often does not reach the most marginalized communities. All the while the poorest communities are most lacking in quality water and sanitation. Nearly all the poorest 25% of the world lacks tap water and coverage inequalities between rich and poor are even greater for sanitation than water (Joint Monitoring Program of UNICEF and WHO, 2014). The ongoing operation and maintenance of this infrastructure is very challenging. For example, 30% of water pumps in Africa do not work. The failure of community water and sanitation systems is often a failure of operation and maintenance, not because of failure of basic technology. Moreover, public awareness to conduct clean and healthy lifestyles is also still low. They do not care about the sources of water itself and just use it.

Furthermore, according to the United Nations, more than one billion people do not have access to clean water, three billion people do not have adequate sanitation services, and the death rate from infectious diseases through less clean water reaches three million deaths per year. In addition to people who live in areas with poor water availability, poor water quality causes those who live near water bodies to also have difficulty in accessing clean water and good sanitation. River water pollution, such as from industry, agriculture, and domestic activities, burdens the river so that it is no longer able to provide people living in the vicinity with good quality water. Residents of the riverbank are currently forced to use dirty water for daily activities.


This phenomenon can be seen in Jogja. There are three major rivers as the heart of the city including Gajah Wong River, Winongo River and Code River. One of the rivers that deserves the spotlight is the Gajah Wong river. Behind the beauty and splendor of the city of Yogyakarta, it turns out there is still one urgent matter that is still neglected and lacks attention: the Gajah Wong River.

Garbage is still scattered here and there. The mountain of garbage have become a common sight for people around the river. Gajah Wong River has experienced pollution due to the disposal of organic and inorganic waste from the surrounding environment. Most of the garbage around the Gajah Wong river is the waste of plastic food wrap. In addition to the mountainous waste around the Gajah Wong river, the color of river water has changed to black and moldy due to pollutants originating from deposits of organic waste.

Gajah Wong river is located in the middle of the city and also near the Sunan Kalijaga UIN, a fact which has led to the construction of many boarding houses near the river. The accumulation of garbage is due to the lack of control of the people (including UIN students). They use the river bank as the location closest to dispose of their garbage every day. Even though around Gajah Wong river, it is difficult to find land or infiltration wells during the rainy season.

This greatly affects the people who live in the villages around the riverbanks. One of their main water sources is from the Gajah Wong river. When the river is polluted, they will find it difficult to find the availability of other clean water to use in their daily needs such as bathing, washing dishes and clothes. As a result, they will forcefully use the Gajah Wong river water.

Moreover, since 2013, there is no longer a river that meets quality standards or is in good condition (not contaminated with waste or any impurities). The number of rivers with fulfilling status to light pollutants is also zero per 2014. Meanwhile, the moderate-polluted status of the river per 2015 is zero. Similarly, the number of heavily polluted rivers has a smaller number. That is, rivers that meet quality standards or in good conditions are increasingly difficult to find. Not surprisingly, households increasingly rely on bottled water as a source of decent drinking water, along with the deteriorating quality of rivers in Indonesia. This problem regarding water needs serious handling, if Indonesia does not want to experience a water crisis in 2025. Water crises can also lead to conflict.

Therefore, as almost all human activities require water, the need is absolute. Water is also the right of life for every person protected by laws that must be fulfilled. In addition, deteriorating water quality will increase the costs that must be incurred in obtaining clean water sources and are suitable for consumption. Not only the government, the community also has to maintain clean water sources so they are not contaminated.


Read more:

Socialization about stunting in Kricak

On March 14th 2019, Project Child Indonesia held “Sosialisasi & Pemeriksaan Tumbuh Kembang Anak” at Sekolah Sungai Kricak. The event started at 08.30 until 11.30 WIB and 43 mothers with their children came at this event. It is one of our events which planned to be held in Kricak and the community was so enthusiastic to participate in “Sosialisasi & Pemeriksaan Tumbuh Kembang Anak”. During this event, we also collaborate with one of community groups in kricak “Pembinaan Kesejahteraan Keluarga” or known as “PKK”.

This event has two agendas, firstly, socialization about stunting and secondly, screening on the children’s health and growth. Both agenda assisted by dr. Alya and dr. Indira, graduated medical students from Gadjah Mada University.

In the first session, the facilitators were talked about the extensive definition of stunting, the effect of stunting on children’s life and also the steps to prevent stunting. Based on dr. Alya presentation, stunting has serious impacts on children because of the lack of nutrition supply. It will deter the developments of children cognitively and physically. For instance, cognitive impacts like poor cognition and physical impacts like impaired growth which caused children to be underdeveloped. Thus, Indonesian government’s nowadays has a big mission to reduce the number of stunting to help the children grow well according to the standard growth.

In the second session, dr. Alya and dr. Indira in collaboration with PKK leaders held a health screening to the children. This health screening, also include the examination of children’s weight and height. After measurement, the doctor gave personal analysis and consultation to each mother with their children.

There are two important points of outcomes from the “Sosialisasi & Pemeriksaan Tumbuh Kembang Anak” event. Firstly, mothers got insights to improve their awareness about children health especially stunting. Secondly, mothers can understand and control their children nutritions supply based on the doctor personal suggestion.

World Water Day 2019: “Leaving no one behind”

by Luisa Maria Geller

“Whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right.”
UN Water


Billions of people are still living without safe water, struggling to survive and thrive. Especially marginalized groups, like women, children, refuges, indigenous or disabled people are often overlooked and heavily affected by discrimination as they try to access and manage the safe water they need. Worldwide, one in four primary schools have no drinking water service, with pupils using unprotected sources or going thirsty. Consequently, more than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.

People are left behind without safe water for different reasons, such as ethnicity, nationality, economic and social status as well as other factors like conflicts, environmental degradation, climate change or population growth.

Addressing the issue: World Water Day 2019

Access to safe water is critical to public health and important for a sustainable and stable development of global society. In 2010, the UN recognized the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life. Defined in Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), the UN aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030. ‘Safe water’ is defined by a safely managed drinking water service. Therefore, the human right to water entitles everyone, without discrimination, to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use, including water for drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, and personal and household hygiene.

World Water Day 2019 on 22nd March tackles the water crisis by addressing the reasons why so many people still are being left behind. This year’s theme “Leaving no one behind” focuses on the adaption of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, questioning why there are still billions of people marginalized or ignored. In order to leave no one behind, society must focus on efforts towards including people. Water services must meet the needs of marginalized groups and their voices must be heard in decision-making processes. Regulatory and legal frameworks must recognize the right to water for all people, and sufficient funding must be fairly and effectively targeted at those who need it most.

How does it relate to Project Child Indonesia?

Even though the water availability in Indonesia is naturally sufficient, approximately 1 out of 8 households in the country has no access to safe water, which affects more than 27 million people in the country. 51 million Indonesians lack access to improved sanitation, increasing the chances of waterborne diseases such as diarrhea. Especially children are concerned by dehydration due to the lack of drinking water, which affects the student’s cognitive functions, limiting school performance and physical activity. Project Child Indonesia is aware of these issues. Therefore, PCI developed its Drinking Water Program (DWP), that is working towards the implementation of water filters in elementary schools, providing them not only with safe water, but furthermore with supplementary education about the importance of water, health, environment and how filtered water can improve the situation in all of these areas. The program shows an effective way of increasing clear water usage and aligns with the ideas of the SDG. Read more about PCI affords in our latest post http://projectchild.ngo/blog/2019/02/25/safe-drinking-water-in-yogyakarta/.

How can I help?

World Water Day 2019 is an occasion for PCI to emphasis its efforts concerning safe water within Indonesia. In order to increase the usage of water filters, awareness needs to be raised about the importance of the consumption of safe water. Therefore, the PCI keeps on with its work with local communities, other NGOs and governmental institutions in order to change the situation of people ‘left behind’ within the country. There are many possibilities to support PJI and their work. Learn more about them here: http://projectchild.ngo/get-involved/.

Furthermore, World Water Day 2019 can be seen as an impulse for more people to get familiar with the issue and support people that are heavily affected by poor water and sanitation conditions. Idea is to raise awareness why people are left behind without safe water and what can be done to reach them, about the reality of the water crisis and how it affects every aspect of society. Want to be a part of the movement? Check how to help on http://www.worldwaterday.org/.

THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR CHILDREN FROM VULNERABLE ENVIRONMENTS

by Melissa Nas

If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate
violence from the world within one generation
Dalai Lama


Indonesia, a nation which lays in an area which is prone to natural disasters, has experienced over 30 major earthquakes, more than 50 floods and landslides, volcanic eruptions and disastrous tsunamis (Asian Disaster Reduction Center, 2016).  Hence, Indonesian residents are repeatedly exposed to significant traumatic events. In these situations, emergency first-aid responders face the task of how identify the means by which distress is expressed in Central Java culture as well how to treat such a large population for health problems.

In the aftermath of disasters, children are among those at the highest risk for developing psychological trauma, such as overt-aggression, withdrawal, post-traumatic stress symptoms, suffer increased anxiety and fear similar disasters arising from their memories (Belfer, 2006; Norris et al., 2002). Unique to this developmental period, is the possibility that these distressed children may exhibit decreased school performance. A study done by Widyatmoko et al. (2011) point out that working with local teachers for identifying and screening distress among children impacted by a disaster provides important insights into the context of trauma for that particular community. Two years after the earthquake in 2006, teachers identified that children exhibit decreased school performance (decreases in student achievement, lack of motivation to study, absences, and the inability to concentrate and master school lessons), a fear of the traumatic experience re-occurring and emotional problems.

Large-scale screening for children’s mental health problems in the wake after a disaster is challenging, through emergency health care providers report feeling unprepared to respond to the children’s mental needs. There is a need for a more efficient screening tool that is able to identify post-disaster mental health problems in children. Therefore, it is important to recognize the potential utility of teachers as an effective resource for assessing the psychological state of children exposed to disasters. Thence, first-aid responders have started to partner up with schools (Widyatmoko et al., 2011).

This article does not only address the potential teachers have for screening mental health problems in children after disasters, but also address their role of implementing yoga exercises in schools for children to cope with the aftermath of disasters. This could eliminate the decreased school performances and help to care for the children’s feelings of anxiety and distress. Several studies indicate the beneficial effects of yoga in children. According to Telles et al. (2012) yoga can be used in managing trauma related to natural disasters, combat and terrorism and interpersonal violence. Learning yoga can empower a person’s self-determination and regain their sense of being in control of their lives. Yoga can be used as a preventive technique as well as a means of improving children’s well-being, improve adjustment among self-regulatory capacities and stress, including rumination, intrusive thoughts and emotional arousal (Telles et al., 2013).

Although yoga can benefit children’s well-being in many ways, this article mainly focuses on the effect that yoga can have on stress and anxiety levels in children. After a tremendous disaster, anxiety is a major disorder having significant impact on a child’s behavior in the classroom, their ability to focus, their overall physical health and well-being. Teachers can provide vital information regarding the child’s need and present a setting that is structured and supportive. Rosenberg’s study (2018) found that 10 minutes of daily yoga practice in the classroom had a significant impact on the anxiety levels of children. Therapeutic yoga appears to be useful in helping children cope with stress and anxiety by practices encompassing asanas, pranayama and mindfulness/meditation sessions as it brings a calming effect to the mind. Breathing techniques (pranayama) and deep relaxation (yoga nidra) induces change in brain activity, lowers oxidative stress, activated the parasympathetic nervous system and therefore reducing the heart rate. When children learn these practices and do them consistently, they can distress themselves, connect with their inner world through the coordination of mind, body and breath. Thus, they may not need to depend on medication whenever they are stressed (Nanthakumar, 2017).  

The NGO organization, Project Child Indonesia, located in Yogyakarta, wants every child in Indonesia to have the opportunity to learn, to have a healthy start, and to feel supported and secure living in a clean environment that is prepared for natural disasters (Project Child, 2019). Project Child’s Sekolah Sungai offers an alternative form of education to children of a vulnerable community which is prone to natural disasters. Therefore, they could make a start implementing a 10 minute of daily yoga at the beginning of their classes to calm the active physical behavior and minds of the children. A ‘sun salutation-exercise’ at the beginning of each class with an additional 2-minute breath exercise could make the children be more aware and focused before the class starts. Because of creating awareness, yoga could help the children understand that they can contribute to the solution instead of being a part of the problem of their community. Additionally, a full 45-minute yoga class could be implemented each semester to let the children connect with their inner-selves and experience the environment around them in a new way.

Several studies mentioned in this article have shown yoga may be a great benefit to a child’s mental health. Therefore, I strongly recommend integrating yoga into the curriculum of schools after it has become a viable option to address emerging emotional and physical health problems in children. If yoga sessions are incorporated as a part of physical education or after school hours (such as Project Child Indonesia) as an extra activity, it can enhance psychological health in children. Therefore, schools should give equal importance to yoga as other school subjects as yoga’s positive impact on holistic health have been uncontroverted.


  1. The Indian science of living, yoga, includes several practices such as physical postures (asanas), voluntary regulated breathing (pranayama), meditation, conscious sensory withdrawal (pratyahara), and philosophical principles (Taimini, 1986)
  2. Anxiety is generally a state of unwarranted fear of nervousness about real or imagined circumstances. There are many symptoms, and they may vary from one person to another, affecting physical and mental health. Anxiety causes stomach aches, headaches and dizziness in children.


Reference:

  • Asian Disaster Reduction Center (2016). Disaster information archive: Indonesia. Retrieved February 22, 2019 from Asian Disaster Reduction Center website: https://www.adrc.asia/countryreport/IDN/2016/Indonesia_CR2016A.pdf
  • Belfer, M. L. (2006). Caring for children and adolescents in the aftermath of natural disasters. International Review of Psychiatry, 18, 523–528.
  • Nanthakumar, C. (2017). The benefits of yoga in children. Faculty of University Studies, HELP University, Journal of integrative medicine. DOI: 10.1016/j.joim.2017.12.008
  • Norris, F. H., Friedman, M. J., Watson, P. J., Byrne, C. M., Diaz, E., & Kaniasty, K. (2002). 60,000 disaster victims speak: Part 1: An empirical review of the empirical literature, 1981–2001. Psychiatry, 65, 207–239
  • Project Child Indonesia (2019). Sekolah Sungai. Retrieved February 25, 2019 from http://projectchild.ngo/our-program/sekolah-sungai/
  • Rosenberg, M. (2018). Reducing Anxiety in Elementary School Children by Implementing Yoga. The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing Undergraduate Honors Theses. Retrieved February, 25, 2019, from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/nursuht/66/
  • Taimini I.K., (1986). The Science of Yoga. Madras, India: The Theosophical Publishing House
  • Telles, S., Singh, N., & Balkrishna, A., (2012). Managing Mental Health Disorders Resulting from Trauma through Yoga: A Review. Department of Yoga Research, Patanjali Research Foundation, Haridwar, India. Retrieved February 25, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3388328/
  • Telles, S., Singh, N., Bhardwai, A.K., Kumar, A., & Balkrishna, A. (2013). Effect of yoga or physical exercise on physical, cognitive and emotional measures in children: a randomized controlled trial. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health: 37. Retrieved February 25, 2019, from https://doi.org/10.1186/1753-2000-7-37
  • Widyatmoko, C. S., Tan, E. T., Seyle, D.C., Mayawati, E.H. & Silver, R.C. (2011). Coping with natural disasters in Yogyakarta Indonesia: The psychological state of elementary school children as assessed by their teachers. School Psychology International, 32 (5), 484-497