by Ian Granit
Safe drinking water is essential to human wellbeing and is a basic human right. The water availability in Indonesia is naturally sufficient due to its heavy rainfall, it is one of the countries with the highest water availability in the whole world. However, approximately 1 out of 8 households in the country lack access to safe drinking water, increasing the chances of waterborne diseases such as diarrhea. A survey in Yogyakarta Province in 2015, through the Government and UNICEF, showed that 2 out of 3 drinking water samples were contaminated by faecal bacteria. Another research study from Bandung Health Office (2012) showed that only 13.33 percent of water samples from tap water had good quality.
The impact of contaminated water has shown to have detrimental consequences on children’s long-term health. Furthermore, dehydration due to lack of drinking water has a severe effect on cognitive functions, limiting school performance among other things for children across the. Proper sanitation technologies and lack of integrated planning is a major obstacle in developing countries suffering from shortages of clean water. One solution to Indonesia’s lack of clean water is the implementation of water filters.
One of the programs in Project Child, the Drinking Water Program (DWP), is working towards the implementation of water filters in elementary schools in the Yogyakarta region. The filters are cheap and easy to maintain considering the benefits that they are able to provide. Utilizing tap water through filtration produce many advantages to children’s health by increasing the availability of water, especially clean water. Furthermore, the filters have positive effect on the environment by reduced single plastic use. The filters present an alternative to plastic bottles, the most common way of accessing clean drinking water in Indonesia. Further and increased use of water filters will therefore decrease the single usage of plastic in addition to the health benefits it brings.
The implementation of water filters is therefore an effective way of reducing plastic waste, increasing clean water usage, decrease dehydration and therefore increase the quality of education. This aligns with 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals:
- Point 6; Clean water and sanitation – water filters have the ability of providing clean water and better accessibility of water were tap water is not safe to drink.
- Point 3; Good health – better accessibility to clean water will increase water consumption, increased water consumption has several benefits towards people’s health.
- Point 4; Quality education – decreased dehydration amongst students due to water and less diseases from contaminated water will lead to better capabilities of coping with education.
- Point 13; Climate action – water filters provide an alternative to plastic bottle usage, the impact of this will decrease the plastic waste that affects the environment in a negative way.
There are several benefits if more water filters were to be implemented in Indonesia. However, many children are raised to never drink tap water and a large part prefer to drink other things than water. The access of drinks containing sugar, caffeine and the perception of these drinks are an obstacle that Indonesia need to address if water filters are to be accepted as an alternative to plastic bottle use or boiled water. Project Child are aware of these difficulties and in addition to providing the schools with water filters they have supplementary education about the importance of water, health, environment and how the filters can help all of these areas.
In the future, to increase usage of the water filters, awareness needs to be raised about the importance of drinking clean water and using water filters. This includes support from communities, other NGOs, government organisations and a change in how people perceive plastic usage and the filtration of water.