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Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink
Surrounded by sea but short of clean drinking waterBeautiful but thirsty landscape
- Markus Makur, Manggarai Timur
- August 25, 2011
It's the nearest source of fresh, clean water and the 36-year-old teacher has been making the trip for the last six years. â€śI have to drive three kilometers, from Tanggo Hamlet to the river,â€ť he says.
This is Manggarai Timur, a district of Flores Island in southeast Indonesia. Home to the legendary Komodo dragon, it is an area of immense natural beauty, surrounded by sparkling seas.Â Yet water is in chronically short supply. Yohanes Jeluluâ€™s daily journey to fetch his dayâ€™s needs is typical. Â Most people in the district go to the river every morning to take a bath, wash clothes and carry water home.
At the nearby Wae Laku river, groups of boys and girls can be seen by the roadside in the afternoons. Once they have filled their jerrycans, they wait to hitch a lift back to their village of Sita from the passing construction trucks.
Just three years ago, local government spent an astonishing four billionÂ rupiah (about US$471 million) on a project to pipe water 40 kms from the Wae Mau River to Borong, the district capital. But the scheme did not extend to the Wae Bobo or Wae Laku rivers; the 20,000 local people still have to fetch water for themselves.
Bishop Hubertus Leteng of Ruteng, which serves the area, recalls a recent jamboree, organized by the deanery ofÂ Borong. â€śMore than 3,500 young people came for a week and they too had to go to Wae Bobo and Wae Laku to get water for their daily needs.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s a struggle every day,â€ť adds Father Benediktus Jaya of St. Gregoryâ€™sÂ Church.
Wilibrodus Nurdin, deputy head of the districtâ€™s House of Representatives, says â€śthere are many springs in the nearby mountains. But the question is, why should we still face difficulty getting clean water?â€ť
Until that question is answered, the children of Sita will have to keep hitching lifts and Yohanes Jelulu will have to keep getting on his bike.
Church channels clean water for mosque, villagers