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Cleaning up Kalideras

Indonesia, November 12, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mercy Corps Indonesia  </span>
    Makeshift latrines like this contaminate local water sources, create hazardous sanitary conditions and spread disease. Mercy Corps is working with the community of Kalideras and local government to build improved sanitation and educate the community on how to stay healthy. Photo: Mercy Corps Indonesia

In West Jakarta, the kampung (or community) of Kalideras had no choice but to go to the toilet in the ditches that led to the adjacent canal, or directly into the canal itself. But in 2009, Mercy Corps joined with local government and the community to help clean up.

Now, one year later, disease has decreased and the message of clean sanitation and hygiene are fully embedded in the lanes and pathways of the kampung. The incidence of diarrhea in the community has dropped from 18 percent to 4 percent.

With the installation of more than 200 septic tanks, hygienic public latrines and showers, mothers are proud their children have a clean and safe alternative to the squalid human waste problems of before. Community campaigns, competitions and radio drama have promoted hygiene, greening, cleaning and other healthy messages. Kids have hand-washing stations with clean water and government and communities have committed to sustaining this progress.

The next step is promoting financial marketing of sanitation. Up until now, the hygiene actions have been subsidized by Mercy Corps. A transformation is in progress: the community will be able to access financial mechanisms to scale up the number of houses with proper waste-water treatment by themselves. Our Program of Urban Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (PUSH) will leave a clean and long legacy.

Kalideras has 3,500 families. But in Jakarta there are millions more suffering illness and poor hygiene, in an even worse state than Kalideras suffered before the program began. Mercy Corps‘ vision is to have our example copied and replicated at scale. We want the government to adopt the technology, methods of promotion and financial mechanisms to have the market help people provide sanitation for themselves.

To help the government along, Mercy Corps is providing practical materials and modules to show the way. We have assessed our progress and noted that we need to go further than just looking at human waste management; now we have to address a massive solid waste problem and are seeking funds for that to happen.

Making this work means even more collaboration with government and the community. The challenge ahead is to facilitate the scaling up of a cleaner environment for massive numbers of families, helping them understand the need for hygiene to build healthier communities.