Children Drink Sweet Drinks When They Lack Clean Drinking Water

Written by: Atin Prabandari and Muhammad Abie Zaidannas Suhud

Children deserve to get clean and safe drinking water. But, in developing countries such as Indonesia, not all children have access to it. A new survey has found this can drive them to consume sweet beverages, posing a risk to their health. Child rights organization Project Child Indonesia surveyed 272 respondents in ten elementary schools in Yogyakarta and Fakfak, West Papua. The survey showed that a third of the respondents turned to sweet beverages as they lacked access to clean and safe drinking water.

Sweet Lure

Consuming sweetened beverages can increase the risks of obesity, insulin resistance, and dental caries. Children often turn to sweetened beverages as they are more attractive and taste sweeter than plain water. Massive advertising of sweetened drinks also attracts children to consume them. In this regard, a lack of access to clean and safe drinking water may exacerbate these habits. Our respondents said they preferred sweet drinks as they believed the cost of packaged mineral water was as expensive or more expensive than sugary beverages. Bottled mineral water costs twice as much in Fakfak as a bottle of mineral water in Surabaya, East Jawa.

Solution: Install Water Filters in Schools

Project Child Indonesia carried out the survey with independent researchers in Yogyakarta and Fakfak in 2019 as a basis to provide clean and safe drinking water in the latter city. A report from Project Child Indonesia indicates that only a few of more than 270,000 elementary schools in Indonesia provided free, clean and safe drinking water for their students. The condition is believed to be much worse in Papua, the most eastern part and least developed region of Indonesia. The 2015 Indonesian National Socioeconomic Survey showed the Papuan region still lacked access to drinking water, despite improvements in Java and Bali islands. Schools in Papua also do not offer adequate environmental and health education. As a result, children lack awareness of the importance of safe and clean drinking water.

Based on our findings, we created a project to address the water access problem faced by children in West Papua. We installed drinking water filters in eight schools in Fakfak, West Papua. Water filters are important in Papua as the price of mineral water is high there. Water filters can help Papuans get cheaper drinking water as they only need to process water supply from rainwater or local drinking water companies. Before consuming water from these sources, we need to treat it to remove chemical contaminants.

We also designed a campaign to introduce the habit to consume safe and clean drinking water. We established drinking water committees involving parents, teachers, and representatives from local communities. This committee has worked together with local communities Fakfak Mengajar and Kitong Bisa to ensure the program’s safety and sustainability.

For this project, we work closely with the government’s local health and education agencies. This shows a collaborative effort between various stakeholders in society is required to ensure children have access to clean and safe drinking water.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

PPI Hongaria Support for Project Child Indonesia

Written by Sijbrand Albrecht Peeters, Community Engagement Associate
Project Child Indonesia

Indonesian Students Association or PPI is an organization consisting of Indonesia students studying abroad. Members of Indonesian Student Association (PPI) varies from students pursuing bachelors, masters and postdoctoral degrees. PPI Hungary members are mostly the recipient of Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship from the Hungarian government.

In an effort to raise awareness of social issues in Indonesia, Project Child Indonesia does not only invite domestic partners to achieve such a goal, rather a holistic approach to all levels of stakeholders, domestic and foreign. The fundamental notion of our work can only be achieved through collaboration, for sustainable change is a result of collaborative effort and not individual work.

In agreement with SDG goal 17, strengthening the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, a partnership and/or collaboration is formed between PPI Hungary and Project Child Indonesia is established. Through PPI Hungary’s UNICORN Program, it will help Project Child Indonesia’s goal for every child in Indonesia to have the opportunity to learn, to have a healthy start and to feel supported and secure living in an environment that is prepared for natural disasters.

UNICORN (Unite Our Voices for Children’s Education) is a social responsibility and/or community service program pioneered by PPI Hungary. The program is designed to provide social aid for those people, movement and organization that focuses on children’s education. Hence, Project Child Indonesia’s Sekolah Sungai (River School) and Sekolah Pantai (Beach School) was selected as a partner for the UNICORN program.

The shared value of PPI Hungary and Project Child Indonesia, to promote quality of education, drives the establishment of a partnership of both parties. Through this partnership, we aspire to raise a more extensive awareness on society thus creating a domino effect in participation to all levels of stakeholders.

Over the last month, PPI Hungary has performed various events to fundraise intended for Project Child’s Sekolah Sungai and Sekolah Pantai. Fundraising activities will be carried out until the beginning of October and we are inviting everyone to participate and/or donate to

Through online crowdfunding, we hope to interact and invite bigger audiences. Encouraging those who share the same values and beliefs and come aboard our big effort in delivering and securing education to those who are denied or limited access to for a better Indonesia.