Access to reliable and clean water is an ongoing challenge in Timor-Leste. Inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure mean that over 1 in 4 people in Timor-Leste still lack access to a safe and reliable water source.
Abundant Water has been working in WASH and community business development in Lao PDR since 2009 and began our pilot project in Timor-Leste late last year. Our earlier scoping study found that similar water supply problems existed in Timor-Leste, with high levels of water contamination, inaccessible filtration technologies and inefficient purification methods placing unnecessary social, environmental and health burdens on local communities.
Through filter use, households save time, money, improve health outcomes and limit deforestation of local habitats (due to reduced firewood use). Through the DFAT Friendship Grant, Abundant Water has been able to implement our pilot project in Timor-Leste, targeting two municipalities and working with 8 local vendors fromDili, Liquica and Atuaro. This work has taken the form of vendor training sessions, hardware supply, development of sales and marketing materials and techniques and allowed the logistical development of filter networks (through field visits, M&E and planning sessions).
To date, Abundant Water has distributed 186 filters to vendors, schools and our partner organisation, Fokupers. Our first vendor training session has also been conducted, equipping selected candidates with the knowledge and skills needed to market and sell filters in their respective communities. Impacts have so far been felt in households and schools that purchased these initial sets, with a reliable supply of clean drinking water while vendors have already begun to see financial returns on initial filter purchases and will be able to use these sales as the beginning of ongoing distribution plan.
This opportunity has been welcomed by community members. Among them are Rita and Alfonso dos Santos, associates of FOKUPERS and leaders of their respective business groups in Darulete, Liquica. Abundant Water has been working closely with them since the beginning of the year and we hope they will serve as a model for future vendors working in more remote areas of Timor-Leste.