Bringing clean water to Cova Lima District in East Timor
17 October, 2012
President Taur Matan Ruak (second from right) inaugurating an AusAID funded water system in Cova Lima District, East Timor. Photo: Ivo Santos / AusAID
Watch the video of the event
Fetching water twice a day from a well hundreds of metres from her home was never an easy task for Angelina Amaral. If carrying half her weight in water wasn’t difficult enough, balancing on hilly terrain and dealing with East Timor’s heat made it even more of a challenge. Harder still was performing the task while heavily pregnant, something Angelina knows all too well as a mother of eight. The work was difficult and time consuming but water duty is now a thing of the past for Angelina and her neighbours in the village of Matai.
Since April, Matai—in East Timor’s Cova Lima District—has benefited from a water system supplying clean water to over 150 households. Built as part of AusAID’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program, the system is a network of almost two kilometres of pipes that pump water from an artesian bore to eight community tanks, each with four taps. An additional pipe carries water to a smaller tank with two taps located at the village school.
As a result of the system, over 2,000 people in Matai have access to water just metres from their homes.
‘My life has become much easier since April,’ Angelina said while tending to her cassava plants. ‘I can bathe my children and wash their clothes daily, rather than once a week like I used to. The time I once spent lugging water is now spent in my garden growing food for my family.’
Accessing safe water sources is fundamental to improving people’s quality of life. Water is used for much more than just drinking. It is needed to wash clothes and prepare food, for gardening and livestock and for sanitation and personal hygiene. Even the simple task of washing your hands is virtually impossible without it.
Sadly, only 57 per cent of rural Timorese have access to safe water sources and only 26 per cent of rural households have access to basic sanitation—a fact not lost on the government of East Timor. Under its Strategic Development Plan, the government has committed to increasing the number of people with access to safe and sustainable water to 75 per cent of the rural population and providing 55 per cent with improved sanitation by 2015. This is consistent with the Millennium Development Goals.
Improving access to water and sanitation
Australia’s flagship rural water and sanitation program, Be’e Saneamentu no Ijiene iha Komunidade (BESIK), is contributing to the achievement of East Timor’s targets. Since 2007, Australia has provided 77,000 rural Timorese with access to clean water and provided access to sanitation for over 67,000.
In keeping with the government’s commitment to improving rural water and sanitation, East Timor’s Head of State, President Taur Matan Ruak, recently paid a visit to Cova Lima where he officially opened the Matai water system. In delivering his inauguration remarks, the President thanked Australia for its support and the solidarity we have shown to East Timor’s rural poor.
The President also encouraged the community to make the most of the resource to improve their lives. ‘The people of Matai should embrace their new water system and treat it like it’s their own. In doing so, the community can strengthen its partnership with development partners like AusAID,’ the President said.
Since its inception in 2007, BESIK has made a significant contribution to strengthening water and sanitation outcomes in rural East Timor. BESIK’s achievements include:
- providing 77,000 people with access to clean water and assisting the government to supply clean water to an additional 145,000 people
- providing safe water to 58 schools, 34 health posts and 14 health centres
- increasing access to sanitation for over 67,000 rural Timorese
- installing sanitation infrastructure in 165 rural villages
- helping to increase the sustainability of water systems (from 30 per cent to 80 per cent fully functioning one year after construction). This has been achieved through improved water system design and increasing community consultation and participation in planning, construction and maintenance of water systems
- establishing a water and sanitation information system covering over 90 per cent of all rural water systems
- assisting the government to develop a National Sanitation Policy and Strategy, and hand washing with soap campaign.
Building on BESIK’s success, a second four-year phase of program worth $43 million will commence in 2013. Known as BESIK II, it will continue to help the government to improve the quality of lives for Timorese living in rural areas. It is where 75 per cent of the East Timor’s population live and it is where poverty is at its most acute. Australia’s goal is to improve the health of Timorese communities through improved behaviour relating to water, sanitation and hygiene.
East Timor's Head of State, President Taur Matan Ruak, officially opens the Matai water system at Cova Lima.
Watch this video on YouTube
Last Reviewed: 17 October, 2012