Clean drinking water is the first priority in earthquake recovery efforts
Life before the earthquakes hit Lombok island of Indonesia was a challenge. Now, less than one year later, the 2,000 residents of Mentigi village endure days without clean water, homes of basic shelter and high unemployment after the resort hotels crumbled and visitors to the island evacuated. Mentigi is not unusual with the conditions its people face, and this makes bringing relief to the entire region a critical need. Waterborne illnesses are widespread, and clean drinking water has never-ending demand and few solutions.
Clean water access is extremely limited because infrastructure that once supplied a modest level of potable water has been damaged and beyond repair for the foreseeable future. Simple wells serve as the community’s source of water for bathing, cooking and washing. While the water may look clear, it is contaminated and unhealthy to drink. Some residents are fully aware of the dangers this water source presents but they are without any other alternative that is affordable. Bottled water on the island is available, but it is also cruelly unaffordable for most residents who were once employed by hotels that were once iconic island structure.These workers are now facing extended layoffs without a reasonable timeline for work to return.
Children of SDN 3 Malaka are without a clean water source which forces them to drink from a nearby contaminated well –and rarely is the water boiled prior to drinking. Teachers, such as fourth grade teacher Abdul Kasim, are concerned with the general health and wellbeing of their students, “It is undeniable we that we are drinking well water because access to clean eater is very difficult, and not available at the school. I am forced to allow studentsto drink the well water without it being boiled.”
The original school was closed because the earthquakes and rubble made them unsafe. The temporary school location does not have toilet facilities which increase the risk of waterborne illness –particularly the younger children. Their hope is for their community to be rebuilt and sustainable access to clean water will come very soon. “Education, and the importance of clean water has not been taught, said H. Harun who is the school headmaster. “We hope thatthere will be access to clean water in schools so that the drinking water needs of all students and communities can be fulfilled, and that education is provided about health and hygiene in our school and community so that we can keep our lives healthier and cleaner.”