Stories of Change

Yabes Tefa, right, with her daughter in Eonfetnai village in West Timor.

Our team in West Timor expanded the Timor Zero Hunger program this year in partnership with families, community leaders and government colleagues.

Water Matters in West Timor

Like many other villagers in the area, the 30 families in Eonfetnai hamlet in West Timor, Indonesia live in a drought-prone area. Before 2013, the hamlet had only one water source – an unprotected spring that, when it filled up, was contaminated by dirt, falling leaves and animal droppings. In the dry season, there was little or no water at all, and families spent a lot of time collecting water from distant and scarce source.

In recent years, thanks to CROP Hunger Walks and other donors, CWS has been able to reach hamlets like Eonfetnai through our Timor Zero Hunger program, which is an integrated community development project to help some of Indonesia’s poorest families improve their lives.

In Eonfetnai, like in hamlets across West Timor and around the world, the lack of clean water – or any water at all – has many negative consequences. These are especially significant for young children, who are most affected by the conditions like diarrhea and severe skin rashes that come from dirty water. The consequences for entire communities are complex and hard to address – especially when people are very poor and uninformed about possible ways to improve their sanitation, hygiene and overall well-being.

Now, with CWS support, Eonfetnai families have been able to protect their spring with a cover and build a cement tank to collect the water. Since the spring shelter and water tank were build several years ago, there has been no water shortage. And, once water was flowing and accessible for all families, the Timor Zero Hunger activities to help families learn about proper hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and environmental health, were meaningful – because they all rely on having clean water.

Remembering the times before they had their safe and plentiful water, a young farmer named Yabes Tefa recalls that her then 4-year-old daughter, Sifralili, “was often sick with diarrhea because I had no water and could not keep our home in a hygienic way. Also, because we had no water, we rarely ate vegetables because we couldn’t plant a garden and, back then, we could not afford to buy them in the market, either.” For Yabes, having enough safe, nearby water has meant less time spent collecting water and more time for other things like planting vegetables and making organic fertilizer – both of which she was able to do with additional CWS support.

To increase their own successes, Yabes and other women in Eonfetnai created a farmer’s group and divided a shared garden into two sections: one for vegetables to be used for family meals and one for vegetables to be sold in the market. “Now, we can make 200,000 Rupiah ($15) every week from selling vegetables in the market,” said Yabes. And, with diversified CWS support, in April 2017 the group expanded to raising chickens to help ensure more diverse diets, especially for their children. The group members learned how to build chicken coops, make chicken feed and hatch chickens in a simple incubator. “Now I have more than 50 chickens!” says Yabes proudly. “At the moment, I don’t have any plans to sell the chickens, only the eggs – for 2,500 Rupiah (18¢) each – and, so far, I have used some of my profit to renovate our latrine so it is sanitary, which I learned how to do with help from the CWS team.”