Sat, 12 Mar 2005


Sleman people line up for 'hygienic toilet' loans

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post/Sleman, Yogyakarta

Until some four months ago, Poniyem, 56, and many other residents of Ledokan hamlet in Umbulmartani village, some 15 kilometers northeast of the regental capital city of Sleman, had to rush to the nearest river to defecate.

As a matter of fact, the nearest river in this Javanese traditional housing complex is some 100 meters away. They still had to pass along a dusty, narrow path and walk down the sloping riverbank before finally being able to satisfy their biological need.

Thanks to a loan program managed jointly by the PKK Umbulmartani and [e] Foundation organizations in cooperation with the provincial Health Promotion Coordination Agency (BKPK), they now have toilets in their houses.

"Now we no longer need to hold back defecation -- if we want to do it in the middle of the night, for example, and are forced to wait until very early in the morning," Poniyem told The Jakarta Post recently during a visit by a funding company.

Launched in August 2002, the "healthy" toilet loan program or kredit jamban sehat was initially funded by the World Bank. The fund was provided to the village in the form of a grant from the provincial government through the BKPK.

"We received a total of Rp 15.3 million at that time and started off providing loans to 12 poor families to build new toilets in their own houses or renovate old ones," chairwoman of PKK Umbulmartani Heni Kusharyani said.

Through the scheme, the selected families received Rp 1,275,000 each, with which they were required to fix up their old toilet or build a new one. Many of the toilets that poor families in the village had previously built were open-pit, often without a roof or a permanent floor, much less a water reservoir.

They were also obliged to build a "healthy" toilet at least 10 meters away from the nearest clean water resource, with its own water supply, a roof and flooring, ventilation and a drainage system.

Provided in the form of a rolling fund with an interest rate of 1.5 percent a month, the debtors are given two years to pay back the loan in monthly installments of Rp 85,000. Yet, according to Heni, as most of the families prefer to pay the money back in installments of Rp 100,000 they can pay the lot back in less than two years.

Of the interest drawn from the loans, one third goes to the additional food-giving program conducted by the PKK organization through the village's integrated service posts or Posyandu, one third is allocated for administration expenses, and the other one third is added to the capital.

So far, as the fund keeps rolling from one family to another, a total of 40 families in Umbulmartani village, which has a population of 7,500, have enjoyed the benefits of the program. Still, many others are already lining up for the chance to have a better toilet.

It is fortunate that through its Ford Motor Company Conservation and Environmental Grants, PT Ford Motor Indonesia (FMI) granted in 2004 an additional fund of Rp 22.5 million through the [e] Foundation as a supervising non-government organization to help the village accelerate the program.

According to [e] Foundation, the sanitation in Yogyakarta province in general is concerning. Quoting data from the Yogyakarta Urban Development Project (YUDP), Momon Hermansyah of the [e] Foundation said that only 53 percent of families in the region had proper sanitation facilities prior to the loan program.

Of the figure, 29 percent live in rural areas, while 78 percent live in urban areas.

In Umbulmartani alone, according to Momon, nearly 900 of some 2,000 families continue to make do without healthy toilets.

He said that the water pollution in the area would increase if nothing was done to solve the problem as defecating in rivers had become a local habit.

The ADB Sanitation Journal 1999, he said, had listed Indonesia among the worst countries in Asia in terms of sanitation.

"That's why we ask the FMI to give us the same funds that it allocated for its 2005 conservation and environmental grant program," Momon told visiting president director of PT FMI Will Angove last week.