“It saddens me when I think about the community members here [RT 5] who often complain about their smelly and not consumable well water,” said Susilo Wibowo, also known as Bowo, the Chief of RT (smallest neighborhood unit) 5 of Pungkursari hamlet in Salatiga urban village, Salatiga city.
What Bowo said is reasonable. Although all households (HH) in RT 5 have toilets in their houses, 38 of 73 HH in this area did not have septic tanks. They disposed of septage from latrines to the river through sewers or directly to the ground. The community members who did not have septic tanks averagely work as laborers and are not able to build their own septic tanks due to financial constraints.
Therefore, Bowo was excited when he heard that the Housing and Settlements Office (Dinas Perkim) of Salatiga city would build a communal Wastewater Treatment Plant (IPAL Komunal) in RT 4 and 5 with a capacity of 20 to 30 HHs in mid 2017. He expected that the community members who did not have septic tanks would use the IPAL Komunal.
IPAL Komunal, or referred to as the Offsite Domestic Wastewater Management System in Settlement Area (SPALD-T Permukiman) based on the Minister of Public Works and Housing Regulation No.4/2017, is a facility to collect septage from the household latrines and can be used by 2-50 HHs. The septage collected in the IPAL Komunal is desludged regularly to avoid the septage overflows. Then, it is transported using a septage truck to a Septage Treatment Plant (IPLT) where the septage is processed further until it meets the domestic wastewater quality standard before being disposed so that it is safe for environment.
However, Bowo’s excitement soon vanished when the community members in RT 4 and 5 living near the IPAL Komunal site rejected the development plan. They worried that the IPAL Komunal would spread the septage smell. Yet, Bowo did not give up easily. Bowo kept assisting Dinas Perkim to promote the benefits of IPAL Komunal to protect the environment and the people’s water sources. He even frequently invited the Health Office, Dinas Perkim, and community leaders, such as the Head of Salatiga urban village to promote IPAL Kommunal in the RT meetings. Bowo also invited the people in RT 5 to observe the IPAL Komunal construction in Kalibening urban village, one of the villages in Salatiga city that received IPAL Komunal from Dinas Perkim in mid 2017.
Bowo was becoming more enthusiastic in promoting IPAL Komunal when participating in the participatory assessment and triggering activities in RT 4 and 5 that USAID IUWASH PLUS conducted in October 2017. These activities are a part of the project supported programs in Salatiga city. The participatory assessment and triggering allows the community members to observe sanitation access in their surroundings and make improvement plans accordingly. This activity is followed with the education on healthy and clean behaviors, as well as on the IPAL Komunal maintenance, such as not disposing of unwanted items to latrines to avoid pipe clogging. Without wasting the opportunity, Bowo used these USAID IUWASH PLUS supported activities to re-assure the community members on the importance of IPAL Komunal.
Slowly, Bowo’s persistence paid off. The community members of RT 5 who used to refuse the IPAL Komunal construction plan agreed to get connected to the facility, and help the construction process.
Besides the RT 5 community members, the people of RT 4 who had refused the IPAL Komunal finally agreed to use the facility after listening about the benefits of IPAL Komunal from the RT 4 leaders who participated in the participatory assessment and triggering activities.
Seeing the people’s enormous enthusiasm, Dinas Perkim started to build IPAL Komunal with a bigger capacity, serving 52 HHs in December 2017. Since March 2018, 33 HHs in RT 5 and 19 HHs in RT 4 have been connected to the IPAL Komunal.
“Initially, I worried that the IPAL Komunal would spread the septage smells. But, my concern never happened. Instead, since the IPAL Komunal has been present, the smell of sewers that connect the latrines and rivers do not come into the house. The river is also getting cleaner, said Daroji, a RT 5 community member who has used the facility.
To pay for the fees of IPAL Komunal maintenance and desludging service conducted every two years, every household using the facility agrees to contribute Rp5,000/month. In addition, Bowo and other community leaders joining the Community Based Organization (CBO) are able to maintain the IPAL Komunal regularly, including checking and cleaning control box and grease trap once a week, after receiving the IPAL Komunal operation and maintenance training from USAID IUWASH PLUS.
Bowo admitted that the IPAL Komunal has limited capacity. Therefore, the facility is prioritized for the community members of RT 4 and 5 living near the IPAL Komunal and who did not have septic tanks. Nevertheless, Bowo promises to propose septic tank construction for the households in RT 5 who have yet to get connected to the IPAL Komunal to the Public Works office in 2019.
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