The Value of Water: An Indonesian Perspective

The Value of Water: An Indonesian Perspective

Written by Network Secretariat
July 21st 2021


World Water Day


On March 25th 2021, SDSN Indonesia in collaboration with Atamerica (U.S Embassy) organized a webinar, titled What Does Water Mean To You? to commemorate World Water Day, celebrated on March 22nd. We all know water is a vital resource that is often taken for granted. Furthermore, clean water has become an even more precious resource and need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, universal access to clean and potable water, and sanitation is not yet our reality.

In keeping with this year’s global theme of “Valuing Water,” this webinar brought together speakers from four well-known and impactful institutions: Kopernik, Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Danone Indonesia, and the Waterhouse Project. Each speaker shared their insights on issues pertaining to access to clean water and sanitation in Indonesia, and empowered participants with knowledge on individual action to support this need. This webinar saw an audience of 160, with participants from public, academic, and private sectors.

The webinar then moved to the speakers:

· Riesa Eka Putri, Associate Manager of Solutions Lab Team, Kopernik

· Arisman, Executive Director, CSEAS

· Thanya Ponggawa, Founder, Waterhouse Project

· Ratih Anggaraeni, Head of Climate and Water Management, Danone Indonesia

Riesa began the webinar with a sharing of initiatives to overcome the limitations of potable water for the coastal, small islands and outer island communities in Indonesia. One such example was the "Waste Exchanges for Water" in Banjar Angkal, Bali. In this case, facilities were owned and managed by the Banjar community themselves making it a successful and sustainable initiative. Riesa also suggested that we must be mindful of our daily water consumption and to support each other in raising awareness on environmental issues, particularly those related to water.

Executive Director of CSEAS, Arisman shared CSEAS’s experience in partnering with ASEAN and Norway on the plastic waste management and circular economy research program focused on the Citarum River located in West Java. He also encouraged the audience to apply the 3R principle, despite various challenges, highlighting that water issues are closely linked to the quality of the source of water itself.

The Waterhouse Project’s aim is to bring clean water to rural areas in need in Indonesia and has several programs that help to ensure access to clean water in drought prone villages in Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The Founder, Thanya Ponggawa, believes that clean water is not only a primary necessity but also helps empower individuals and improve the overall quality of life. She also emphasized that in order for such programs to be sustainable, the intervention itself should instill a sense of belonging for the community, by involving the residents themselves in the installation of the infrastructure and provide training on irrigation systems.

Ratih Anggraeni’s belief of a healthy body requires healthy food, and healthy food comes from a healthy planet, highlights the point that existing environmental issues cannot be ignored any further and inaction would be a mistake. She then discussed several programs by an organization in the private sector, Danone Indonesia (Aqua). This included efforts of protecting water resources by promoting sustainable paddy cultivation practices, encouraging water circularity within and around operational businesses by empowering communities through water infrastructure and sanitation practices, providing safe drinking water for vulnerable communities by enabling more than 101 water community groups access to credit water, integrating WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and nutrition programs, as well as interventions in schools with the development of Perilaku Hidup Bersih dan Sehat (PHBS)/Clean and Healthy Living Behavior education materials.

The question-and-answer portion of the webinar moderated by Fadelia Deby Subandi, Network Manager of SDSN Indonesia, focused on how to access sustainably built water infrastructure and how to inspire community members to become actively involved in achieving this. In addition, it was suggested that a way to improve wider access to clean water would be to ensure that the infrastructure be owned and maintained by the community members and not to rely on one -time grants.

Hence, let us start from ourselves by becoming more mindful in our daily water usage, reflecting upon the question of “what does water mean to you?”, and support the acceleration of SDG 6 in Indonesia by promoting the initiatives done by communities and all related stakeholders. The event then concluded with a closing statement by Ratih Anggraeni on the importance of solving the problem of water by looking the issues systematically and also its relation with other goals in the SDGs.

The recording of the event (in Indonesian) can be viewed here.

Edited by: Nur Amirah Abdul Majid, Fadelia Deby Subandi