Kamis, 27 Oktober 2011 09:50
When Access to Clean Water Becomes a Problem

"As one of 121 countries that supported the resolution, Indonesia does not yet have optimal management of its water resources."
Not all citizens currently enjoy access to clean water. World Bank data for 2008 reveals that at least 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water, while 2.6 billion do not have access to sanitation. In Indonesia, only 50 percent of households have access to clean water and sanitation. The total number of people with clean water access is just 40 million.
The situation is exacerbated by a total of just 8 million household piped water connections, with 62.65 percent of Regional Water Supply Companies (PDAMs) still not being in a viable state.

In fact, according to Hamong Santono, National Coordinator of the People's Coalition for the Right to Water (KRuHA), access to clean water and sanitation has become a human right, as expressed in the UN resolution on 29 July, 2010. Unfortunately, being one of the 121 countries that signed the resolution, Indonesia does not yet have optimal management of its water

"The State bears the primary responsibility for the right for water. With 58 percent of the population living in Java, which has about 70 watershed areas, but 62 to 64 of these are damaged, and only 40 million people have access to clean water. This has happened because the state has been indifferent, and water has never been a development priority," said Hamong in Jakarta some time ago.

Indonesia has 6 percent of the world's available water, and 21 percent in the Asia Pacific region. In the past, a potential surplus of more than 300 million m3 of water had been expected by 2015. But now most areas of Java, Sulawesi, Bali and Nusa Tenggara face a clean water deficit.

"Due to lack of access to clean water, the WHO says that Indonesia has become the second biggest contributor to the incidence of diarrhoea in the world," said Hamong.

Hamong believes that government programmes often do not side with the people. Modest budget allocations have become the government’s excuse for privatising (the management of) water resources.

"We are aware that responsibility actually resides with the state. But the people are also indifferent and ambiguous about water. One side recognises its importance, the other side contributes to the damage being done to water resources."

The new Minister of the Environment, Gusti Muhammad Hatta, acknowledges the water availability problems in the regions. And supplies of water are often quite expensive to buy.

"Per capita consumption of fresh water for the more than 237 million inhabitants of Indonesia tends to increase by 15 to 35 percent per year. Yet clean water availability is falling thanks to environmental damage and pollution," said Gusti.

It is estimated that clean water needs will continue to rise, reaching 70 percent by 2025. "We appeal for people to conserve water. Water can be consumed sparingly, and non-essential use can stop," Gusti advised.

Gusti added that, Indonesia actually has a large quantity of water, but of poor quality. This is because many rivers are polluted, and they often overflow during heavy rain.

He said that future improvements could include increasing the land cover by replanting vegetation. This would give water a greater chance of going into the soil and re-entering the water supply, and prevent rain water from flowing directly into the sea or causing flooding.

Deputy to the Minister of the Environment for Control of Environmental Degradation and Climate Change, Arief Yuwono, added that the central government already has a water resource conservation policy in place that relates to the targets under the MDGs and other national programmes.

Among other things, there is a national action plan on climate change, which was launched two years ago. This programme has begun because water problems are also related to global climate change concerns.

"Access to clean water in big cities like Jakarta has also been hampered by ineffective implementation and enforcement of regulations to protect access to clean water. Strict regulations on the protection of water should be issued and enforced, including on water privatisation," said Arief.

By Eni Kartimah / 18 August 2011 / Media Indonesia



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