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Clean Water for Schools: Strengthening the Acceleration of Stunting Reduction in West Sumbawa

The sound of laughter and joy from children can be heard from Bariri Talonang Baru Kindergarten in Talonang Baru Village, West Sumbawa District. That afternoon, while seeing off the students, Lika Santika Nuri, the principal of Bariri Talonang Baru Kindergarten, warmly welcomed the arrival of the CARE Peduli Foundation (YCP) team to the school to monitor the development of children with stunting status and the access to sanitation at the school.

“Out of 35 students aged 3-6 years, there were once 3 children with stunting. Now, only 1 child remains with stunting. We pay special attention to children with stunting by monitoring their growth and development according to their age. For instance, we observe their gross and fine motor skills. From this monitoring, we have found that children with stunting do not differ much from other children, although their height is indeed shorter,” said Lika. She further explained that the school continues to urge parents to give special attention to their parenting, particularly for children with stunting. “Even so, the children do not feel inferior because of their stunting condition. They continue to play happily with their peers,” she added.

Through the stunting reduction acceleration program, which is a collaboration between PT Amman Mineral, YCP, and the West Sumbawa District Government, efforts to improve the condition of children in Talonang Baru Village are also being made by providing access to clean water. According to research by the Ministry of Health (Kemkes), as reported by jawapos.com, stunting caused by a lack of clean water and poor sanitation accounts for up to 60 percent of cases. Therefore, the construction of clean water facilities in Talonang Baru Village last April 2024 has become crucial.

The availability of clean water facilities was excitedly received by the school because there were no sanitation facilities before. “We are glad that clean water will be directly channelled to the school grounds. As teachers, we can teach the children about maintaining hygiene related to sanitation, encourage them to wash their hands regularly, and also start teaching them to plant in the school yard,” said Lika.

According to Lika, the lack of sanitation facilities at the school made it difficult for the staff to maintain the students’ hygiene, which also disrupted the teaching and learning process. “So far, for sanitation, we have been collaborating with the houses next to the school. Many children also go home if they need to use the bathroom and often do not return to school. This, of course, greatly disrupts the learning hours,” Lika added.

For Mikrani, a parent of a student at Bariri Kindergarten, taking their child to and from school when they need to use the bathroom is also a challenge because it requires leaving their work in the fields. “As parents, we are also inconvenienced because we have to pick up and drop off our child back at school. We are corn farmers who spend a lot of time in the fields, so we entrust our children to the kindergarten. If they frequently return home to use the bathroom, it means we have to frequently leave our work in the fields,” he said.

The difficulty of accessing clean water is still experienced by the majority of households across Indonesia. Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), as reported by kompas.com, indicates that the proportion of households with access to drinking water nationwide averaged 44.94 percent in 2022. This means that the majority of households in Indonesia still do not have optimal access to drinking water. In the province of West Nusa Tenggara, BPS data shows that 3.97% of households still lack access to proper drinking water sources, including in Talonang Baru Village.

Topographically, Talonang Baru Village is located on small hills that stretch between one hamlet and another. The houses are not concentrated in one place but are scattered. Budi Santoso, the head of Talonang Baru Village, mentioned that the distance between houses in his village makes it difficult to meet basic needs such as drinking water. “We are migrating from outside West Sumbawa, and our houses were built on individual plots, so the distance between houses is very far. This makes it difficult for us to meet needs such as drinking water services. We are striving to obtain water sources in each hamlet according to the terrain,” said Budi.

Echoing Budi’s sentiments, Lika also shared her difficulties in obtaining water. So far, she has been fetching water for her students’ needs from a neighbour’s house. Often, she has to ride a motorcycle for 2 kilometres to fetch water from a drilled well in Mone Hamlet. She mentioned that water is expensive and limited. “We usually rent a motorcycle taxi to fetch water with a 50-liter jerry can. This water is used for washing the children’s hands and for the needs of the teachers,” said Lika. She further stated that after the establishment of the clean water facility built by YCP, Bariri Kindergarten will also construct sanitation facilities for the comfort of the students and teachers.

The clean water facilities, consisting of 1 drilled well and 1 safe drinking water depot in Talonang Baru Village, according to Budi, have relieved the residents from the need to fetch water from neighbouring villages. “Currently, we have piped water from the drilled well to 35 households in RT 1 and RT 2. Around 134 residents can directly benefit from the water flowing through the pipes installed during the Pansimas program,” said Budi.

Muhammad Ikraman, the Project Manager of YCP, stated that the construction of clean water facilities in Talonang Baru Village can also be utilized by the communities in surrounding villages, such as Mone Hamlet, Sampar Ujung Hamlet, and Lemar Lempoh B Hamlet. “The drilled well built by the YCP team has a depth of 84 meters and a water discharge of 1.1 liters per second. With such a discharge rate, the drilled well can serve 100 households in 2 hamlets in Talonang Village. Moreover, 414 households in 3 surrounding villages will also find it easier to access water through the safe drinking water depot. In the future, we will continue to improve access to drinking water in other villages in West Sumbawa Regency,” concluded Ikraman.

Pewawancara: Muhamad Ikraman, Yarid, dan Mulyadi
Penulis: Swiny Adestika

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