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Berita dan Cerita

Intuitive Village Leadership Pushes for Better Access to Safely Managed Sanitation

Mariyem senang dapat toilet baru

The leadership roles assumed by women introduce fresh and valuable perspectives, thereby fostering inclusive participation in village planning, budgeting, and development processes. This underscores the critical importance of women’s involvement in village governance and decision-making.

Ms. Laura Isabella is the head of the government at Kerjo Lor village, one of 251 villages in the district of Wonogiri, Central Java. She is one of a dozen women village chiefs and is spearheading change to provide better access to safely managed sanitation and promote hygiene practices for her constituents.
Laura Isabella receives a visit from USAID Indonesia
Most of the 9,000 inhabitants of Kerjo Lor make their daily livelihoods as smallholder farmers, farmhands, and local traders. While most families have individual septic tanks, they are poorly managed, resulting in fecal contamination of ground water. Sadly, poverty and low literacy rates have compounded the problem.

According to Laura, citizens have poor access to sanitation and several households were still practicing open defecation when she took office in 2007. “We continue to educate the public and work hard to make this region open defecation free.”

USAID IUWASH Tangguh’s intervention in 2022 has helped accelerate changes through advocacy and promotion on safely managed sanitation, community-based initiatives, and workshops to improve the knowledge and skills of volunteers. More than 70 people have benefited from various training that the project organized on organizational management, governance, monitoring and evaluation, and technical skills in constructing standardized toilets.

Hence, Laura saw the urgency in providing families with access to proper sanitation facilities in their homes and soon reciprocated by tapping into the Village Funds (Dana Desa) to fund the construction of ten standardized toilets and septic tanks through the village’s 2023 annual budget. In addition, the village is also anticipating the construction of 18 safely managed sanitation facilities through a corporate social responsibility program.

Masons build a septic tank in Wonogiri

Decision makers prioritized vulnerable and marginalized groups in the village—people with disabilities, women-led families, the elderly, and especially underprivileged and low-income households. Village leadership chose eligible households through a series of discussions with members of the community.

Laura commented on how women participated in the discussions, selection, verification, and decision-making process. “Women were significantly involved and actively volunteering.”

Said one of the recipients is Ms. Mariyem, 55, who now has a new private toilet, “I am extremely grateful. I don’t need to use the toilet at someone else’s house anymore.”

Mariyem and her new toilet
With USAID IUWASH Tangguh support, the village government will promote septic tank desludging services and facilitate alternative financing. Laura plans to make their mission more sustainable for years to come by drafting a bill on safely managed sanitation, “we want the government to be there to help ensure the safety and health of our citizens as well as protect our environment.”

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