Up until 2017, the residents of Sembir sub-village in Kelurahan Bugel, and Brajan sub-village in Blotongan Kelurahan, Salatiga city struggled to access clean water for daily needs. They had to travel four kilometers away, or climb cliffs to another sub-village or kelurahan (urban village) just to get water. Arriving there, the community members still had to queue for water. “We had to queue at noon, night, or at dawn to get water, which wasted a lot of time and energy,” Suparno (37) remembered when water was difficult to access in his sub-village.
Similar to Suparno, Jamuri (55), a resident of Brajan sub-village, said that the water the people took from other sub-villages or kelurahan was actually not consumable; it had color and smelled. Consequently, the villagers had to spend fifty thousand rupiah every month to buy refill water for cooking and drinking.
Limited access to clean water had been a long-standing problem for the community in Sembir, Brajan, and several other sub-villages in Kelurahan Mangunsari, Sidorejo Lor, Tingkir Tengah, and Cebongan. These six kelurahan are located on the slope of Mt. Merbabu and far from water springs. The closest well does not have enough water debit to meet the community members’ needs and the water quality is bad.
To address the water scarcity, the people from the six kelurahan asked Salatiga city government to help them meet their clean water needs. Responding to that, in 2017, the Housing and Settlement Office of Salatiga City built eight communal water supply systems (SPAM Komunal) in these six kelurahan using DAK (Special Allocation Budget) 2017.
To ensure the water supply from SPAM Komunal to the households runs smoothly, the community has to be involved in the facility planning, development, and management. Therefore, the Salatiga city government works with USAID IUWASH PLUS encourage the community to participate in the development and management of the SPAM Komunal. In the development phase, USAID IUWASH PLUS team disseminated the facility development plan to the beneficiaries and asked them to help the government build the facility. It is important to create the community’s ownership and responsibility to maintain SPAM Komunal facility.
The community also formed KSM (community-based organizations) to manage the SPAM Komunal with the assistance from USAID IUWASH PLUS. The KSM will be responsible for the facility operations and management. They are also in charge of developing operational procedures through discussions with the SPAM Komunal users.
People’s hard work finally paid off. At the end of 2017, 535 houses were connected to the SPAM Komunal. “In the past, we had to queue at any time just to get water. Now, we just need to switch on the tap,” said Bambang (42), a resident of Brajan sub-village. Similarly, Jamuri, another resident of Brajan sub-village, said that he could save more money now because he does not need to buy refill water.
Significant progress is also made by each KSM. All KSM caretakers have applied technical skills on SPAM maintenance and development, and non-technical knowledge on organization and financial management they learned from USAID IUWASH PLUS. The KSMs are able to develop their own regulations and policies on SPAM management such as the organization’s bylaws and operational procedures, record financial activities, and decide water tariff and fee for building new house connections. For example, KSM Berkah Rahayu, which manages the SPAM Komunal in Brajan sub-village, sets the price for making a new house connection at Rp500,000. This fee was decided upon agreement between the KSM caretaker and the SPAM users by considering the people’s economic situation, and the number of SPAM users.
Furthermore, some KSMs plan to expand the SPAM Komunal services. For example, KSM Tirta Kencana in Kelurahan Cebongan plans to increase its services from 83 houses to 100 houses. KSM Tirtomigunani in Kelurahan Sidorejo Lor plans to run a bottled water business and use its profit to improve the welfare of the SPAM Komunal users.
Community engagement in the SPAM Komunal management also strengthens the relations among the residents. “Since the SPAM Komunal was built, people interact closely because we often meet to discuss the SPAM management,” said Akhmad Kuri, the Chief of RT 09, Soka sub-village, Kelurahan Sidorejo Lor, who is also the Coordinator of KSM Tirtomigunani.
(Edy Triyanto/ USAID IUWASH PLUS)
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