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RISE communities in Indonesia celebrate World Water Day 2019

By Ina Rahlina, RISE Indonesia Communications Officer

4 April 2019

Water is an important component in human life and the earth's environment. Without water, earth's life will languish. The availability and access of clean water for all living things on earth is the focus of sustainable development 2030.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 is crystal clear: water for all by 2030. This means leaving no one behind. But today, 2.1 billion people are still living without safe water – their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggling to survive and thrive.

The United Nations Development Programme reported more than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation. Women and girls are responsible for water collection in eight out of ten households with water off-premises.

The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit. Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030. By definition, this means leaving no one behind.

Water is a human right. Access to water underpins public health and is therefore critical to sustainable development and a stable and prosperous world. We cannot move forward as a global society while so many people are living without safe water.

In 2010, the UN recognized “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

The human right to water entitles everyone, without discrimination, to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use; which includes water for drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, and personal and household hygiene.

As a country where one third of its territory is water, Indonesia has an important role in ensuring clean water and sanitation access for its citizens. This year, the Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments (RISE) communities in Makassar, Indonesia, celebrated World Water Day.  Around 180 communities and stakeholders gathered to commemorate the day by celebrating the successful completion of baseline sampling for the RISE program’s settlements in Makassar.

The RISE research program invites all relevant stakeholders to jointly develop a natural 'green' solution to the water challenges that we face in the 21st century, to improve both the environment and human health and wellbeing. This program aims to provide new evidence that a localized, water sensitive approach to revitalizing informal settlements can deliver sustainable, cost-effective health and environmental improvements.

Underpinned by the emerging discipline of ‘Planetary Health’ – the link between the environment and human health – RISE aims to reduce both environmental pollution itself and human contact with pollutants. The health and wellbeing of residents – particularly children under five – and ecological diversity will be the measurements of success.

The water sensitive approach integrates ecologically and economically sustainable water infrastructure into urban buildings and landscape. Also known as nature-based solutions, these kinds of systems mimic the earth’s natural systems, require less maintenance and do not require connection to a central ‘big pipes’ system.

Water sensitive solutions are applied to dwelling, residential, and environmental scales to recycle wastewater, and protect shelters from flooding and environmental pollution. Wastewater is managed locally to reduce environmental pollution by using natural processes such as artificial swamps, bi-filtration gardens, and local 'smart' septic tank-based sanitation systems. Rainwater runoff is harvested and flowed to reduce flooding and can be used for various household and economic needs, including urban farming, while green space improves local comfort.

Working with communities, governments, local leaders and partner institutions in 26 settlements across Makassar, Indonesia and Suva, Fiji, RISE is co-designing location-specific solutions that integrate water sensitive infrastructure, such as constructed wetlands, to strengthen the whole-of-life water and sanitation cycle.

The Provincial Government of South Sulawesi and the Government of Makassar City have been very supportive of the RISE research program from the beginning, and strongly expect that the evidence gathered through the RISE research will assist in addressing human health and environmental challenges that result from flooding, lack of clean water and inadequate sanitation in urban informal settlements.