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Improving access to clean, safe water in Timor-Leste

Access to clean, safe water is one of the most basic and essential human needs. Without it, providing quality health care is made more difficult and often leaves those most vulnerable at risk.

During COVID-19, clean, safe water in remote communities in Timor-Leste has been more critical than ever to prevent the spread of the virus and other diseases.

ChildFund Timor-Leste has been working with local health professionals in Lautem municipality, in the eastern part of the country, to distribute water tanks to health posts in villages.

Health professionals at Pitileti health post in Lautem have been using a water tank to collect rainwater for handwashing and hygiene. Over the last few years, the tank has started to break down and has been leaking. There has also been a shortage of water in the community due to drought conditions wearing down water pipes.

As part of its COVID-19 response, ChildFund has been distributing water tanks in remote communities in Timor-Leste, and replaced the run-down tank at Piteleti with a new one. ChildFund also set up handwashing stations in the community to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Dr Aquino Ligoria, who has worked at the Pitileti health post for the past seven years, says the water shortage is noticeable in his community but Pitileti health post has been able to access water thanks to a water system that was set up with the help of ChildFund several years go.

“ChildFund helped to establish a well in the mountains and water pipe to ensure water could reach the health post,” he says. “It has supported the health post. The community collaborated with local authorities so the health post can have water, and now after seven years of working here, we have clean water.

Apart from the water shortage, he shared other challenges they are facing in the community. He said that there is a shortage of medics, and the community lacks an understanding of the importance of hand hygiene.

As part of the COVID-19 response, ChildFund distributed handwashing posters, COVID-19 prevention banners in schools, and hygiene kits. “I believe a poster, or a handwashing sticker could help remind people about the importance of handwashing.”

Despite these challenges, he is hopeful that programs like these will help him provide better care to his patients.

ChildFund is working with local health workers like Aquino to make sure they have reliable access to clean, safe water so their health posts can offer the best care to their community. The program also supported people facing economic hardship because of the virus, distributing food packages, hygiene kits and cleaning materials for schools.

The project is supported by Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP) and ChildFund alongside Plan International Timor-Leste to implement the AHP COVID-19 response in the Lautem municipality.

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