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Doing it For The Kids

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13 May 2013

http://kopernik.info/sites/default/files/images/DSC_0134_0.middle.jpg  Students from Melinggih Elementary School, Payangan, Bali

 

Kerta Village, Payangan sub-district, Bali. (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

It’s not every day that I have hundreds of people screaming and shouting at me. But it wasn’t as intimidating as it sounds. The crowd was made up of school children, and they were shouting with excitement. This is the story of how we introduced water filter technology to schools in need in Bali.

Payangan is a sub-district in Bali, about half an hour north of Ubud. It is quite underdeveloped, and access to drinking water is a problem. Families usually have to boil water, which they collect from local water springs. Sometimes they buy drinking water. As Payangan is far from being a wealthy district, buying clean water is a huge financial burden for many.

Yayasan Bali Sahaja, a charitable foundation based in Payangan, was concerned about this situation. School children had to spend money every day on bottled water, which produced a lot of plastic waste. Each month more than 30 million plastic bottles are used in Bali, and most of these end up in landfill or are burned, producing toxic fumes.

An elementary school in Buahan Village gets water from the village water source and puts it in buckets.

An elementary school in Buahan Village gets water from the village water source and puts it in buckets. (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati) 

Before drinking the water, teachers will boil the water from the buckets. (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

Before drinking the water, teachers will boil the water from the buckets. (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

Students take water from the drainage located at the back of the school to supply water for the school’s toilets. (Photo by Rara 

Students take water from the drainage located at the back of the school to supply water for the school's toilets.

Plastic waste found at schools in Payangan. (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

Plastic waste found at schools in Payangan. (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

So Kopernik partnered with Yayasan Bali Sahaja to distribute water filters to schools in Payangan, with the twin goals of providing safe drinking water for students and helping reduce plastic waste. Kopernik works with trusted local partners like Yayasan Bali Sahaja, who know the local playing field well when it comes to introducing new technology.

The foundation is led by Pak Niko and teachers from Payangan’s vocational tourism school, with active involvement from students who are members of the school’s Green Club. Connecting schools, this project was funded by the Osaka International School Elementary Department in Japan, whose students helped raise US$1,000 to fund the water filters.

Kopernik chose to send me and my colleagues Christal and Monica to distribute water filters to schools located in several villages in Payangan. In addition to 15 Nazava Bening XL water filters, we came prepared with hand-made posters about water filters, and boxes of pink and blue highlighters and pencils as quiz prizes. We were all set to kickstart the Payangan project.

One of our four posters in the making! (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

One of our four posters in the making! (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

Members of the Green Club talk about the importance of safe drinking water with a class in Melinggih village. (Photo by Rara Sek

Members of the Green Club talk about the importance of safe drinking water with a class in Melinggih village. (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

With 14 schools to reach in just two days, time was of the essence. The team from Yayasan Bali Sahaja, Christal, Monica and I split into three groups to distribute the water filters.

Rara and Christal show the class how to assemble the Nazava Water Filter. (Photo by Green Club)

Rara and Christal show the class how to assemble the Nazava Water Filter. (Photo by Green Club)

Our handmade poster. (Photo by Sangtu)

Our handmade poster. (Photo by Sangtu)

Monica explains to students how the Nazava filter candle works (Photo by Green Club)

Monica explains to students how the Nazava filter candle works (Photo by Green Club)

Students at Buahan Elementary School were very curious about the water filter. (Photo by Sangtu)

Students at Buahan Elementary School were very curious about the water filter. (Photo by Sangtu)

The students and teachers greeted us with enthusiasm and curiosity as we explained to them how to use the water filters and why safe drinking water is so important.

A student at Kerta Elementary School tries to assemble the Nazava water filter. (Photo by Green Club)

A student at Kerta Elementary School tries to assemble the Nazava water filter. (Photo by Green Club)

Students examine how the filtration system works. (Photo by Green Club)

Students examine how the filtration system works. (Photo by Green Club)

As we asked simple questions like “when do you need to clean the filter candles?” or “how many glasses of water do you need to drink per day?”, the children screamed and shouted like mad. “Me! Me!” they called out, while raising their hands in the air. We gave prizes of pencils and highlighters to the students who answered correctly.

Quiz time! (Photo by Sangtu)

Quiz time! (Photo by Sangtu)

“Me! Me!” (Photo by Sangtu)

“Me! Me!” (Photo by Sangtu)

“Tell us three components of the filter candle!” (Photo by Sangtu)

“Tell us three components of the filter candle!” (Photo by Sangtu)

Everyone wants the blue and pink highlighters. (Photo by Sangtu)

Everyone wants the blue and pink highlighters. (Photo by Sangtu)

Highlighters and pencils, who would’ve thought they had so much value? The small, simple things we often overlook. (Photo by Rar

Highlighters and pencils, who would’ve thought they had so much value? The small, simple things we often overlook. (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

It was by far my favorite part of the day.

Before distributing the water filters, we conducted a baseline survey together with the Green Club and Yayasan Bali Sahaja to better understand water consumption and water sources in Payangan. From the baseline survey results, we found that water springs are the main source of drinking water for homes in Payangan.

Source of drinking water at home in Payangan

Source: Baseline Survey Clean Water and a Clean Environment for Schools in Payangan, Bali, March 2013

We also discovered that students spent a large part of their small daily allowance on bottled water, which costs Rp 1,000 – Rp 2,000 (US$0.10 – US$0.20) per 600ml bottle. It may not seem much for some, but over the school year it adds up to a significant cost for these families.

Student's allowance per day

Source: Baseline Survey Clean Water and a Clean Environment for Schools in Payangan, Bali, March 2013

Students daily expenditure on mineral water

Source: Baseline Survey Clean Water and a Clean Environment for Schools in Payangan, Bali, March 2013

In April we will complete our survey by counting the volume of plastic bottle waste at schools – both before and after the distribution of water filters. We will have to spend a whole day counting the number of plastic bottles produced daily at one school. It will be challenging, but interesting to see the results.

We’re very excited to see the impact of this project in the coming months. However, the success of this program also relies on the teachers’ participation to encourage the students to drink more water from the filters. The baseline survey shows that many students and teachers quench their thirst with soft drinks, and drink only a small amount of water each day.

Indonesian soft drinks are often sold in plastic pouches for Rp 500 (US$0.05). (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

Indonesian soft drinks are often sold in plastic pouches for Rp 500 (US$0.05). (Photo by Rara Sekar Larasati)

Students daily mineral water consumption

Source: Baseline Survey Clean Water and a Clean Environment for Schools in Payangan, Bali, March 2013

Teachers daily mineral water consumption

Source: Baseline Survey Clean Water and a Clean Environment for Schools in Payangan, Bali, March 2013 

Behavior change is one of the most difficult things to achieve in development programs. But nothing is instant, and we’re certain that Yayasan Bali Sahaja and the schools in Payangan are on the right track to become Bali’s agents of change. If Yayasan Bali Sahaja’s initiative is to continue, which it should, then the schools must be actively involved.

Sometimes it’s not enough to do it for the kids. We need to do it with the kids.

Sometimes it’s not enough to do it for the kids. We need to do it with the kids.

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