Laser Plumber Returns to Indonesia
Flushing toilets and the ability to wash your hands is something most people take for granted. But for a school of 300 students currently sharing two toilets as well as a water supply also shared with local farmers, access to clean water and facilities can mean the difference between life and death.
Apprentice, Aidan Ward from Laser Plumbing Sale has returned to Indonesia to complete the work in the remote school which he began in August this year, working with other plumbers, engineers and architects from the US, Ireland, India and Indonesia.
Representing Australia as part of the Community Plumbing Challenge, Aidan is based in Cicau Village, Bekasi in West Java. Previous projects have been based in India and South Africa and are an annual challenge designed to provide a unique learning experience for young plumbing apprentices as well as provide a sustainable water sanitation solution to locals.
With the CPC project focussing on building a wastewater system for the local school as well as installing new toilets and a reliable water supply, the preparation was made harder by the wet season, with the digging of trenches in clay and the steamy temperatures challenging even the local teenagers who volunteered to help the team. Also challenging was the need to complete the project with minimal equipment.
“Everything is so easy in comparison when you have unlimited tools and materials” said Aidan. “When something as simple as primer is not available, you have to think outside the square and, although challenging, is a great opportunity. There are times I feel like I am learning more in a day that I sometimes do in a month”.
Working on a new sewer line running along a classroom wall, Aidan is quickly reminded of the importance of what he is doing as he looks up to find a classroom of children looking down and smiling at him.
Poor sanitation and unsafe water contribute to 88 per cent of deaths from diarrhoea amongst young children worldwide and in Indonesia, diarrhoea is still a major cause of death amongst children under the age of five.
“When we arrived it was great to see a few familiar faces who came up to ask how we had been. I was humbled that they even remembered us” said Aidan.
The project is lead by the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation whose aim is to connect technical experts with local community networks to develop and embed real skills in the design, management, and long-term sustainable maintenance of water and waste systems worldwide.
Returning to Australia for World Toilet Day on November 19, the CPC experience has made Aidan appreciate more, the importance of water sanitation and how lucky Australia is.
“Plumbing is often underestimated when thinking about community health and, when we consider our own water sanitation infrastructure, we forget how different our lives would be without it,” said Aidan.
“World Toilet Day highlights the importance of water sanitation with an estimated 2.4 billion (about 1 out of 3 people) lacking access to improved sanitation facilities in 2015 and, in an analysis of 145 countries, it was estimated that 58% of all cases of diarrhea were caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.”
“This resulted in more than 526,000 children under the age of 5 dying from water, sanitation and hygiene-related diarrhoea in 2015 alone”.