Loans Bring Toilets, Sanitation to Indonesia

Nurita and her husband in front of their business
Nurita and her husband in front of their business
Seema Johnson, USAID
Hygienic latrines boost health and safety
“Due to these loans, I am able to remodel and expand my house while gaining access to water and sanitation.”

November 2015—Globally, there are 2.4 billion people without access to safe, clean bathrooms. In Indonesia, this means that one in three people does not have access to a flush toilet, latrine or septic system. Many still defecate in the open.

Besides being linked to disease and malnutrition, this practice puts women and girls at risk for rape and abuse because they do not have access to a safe, private toilet. However, USAID is partnering with local organizations and the Government of Indonesia to change this.

Over the past five years, the USAID-funded Indonesia Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (IUWASH) project has helped more than 186,000 people gain access to improved sanitation. The project has achieved this by partnering with a local cooperative, KPP-UMKM Syariah, to provide microfinance services to local families so they can build safe and hygienic bathrooms.  

Nurita*, a grandmother of two from the Banten province of Indonesia, found out about the sanitation loan program at a community meeting. Two months ago, construction was completed on a new latrine for her family, which is connected to a septic system.

Before the latrine was built, Nurita says, she worried about the risk of disease and the danger her grandchildren faced when they didn’t have access to a toilet and had to use open fields for defecation. “I feel more comfortable inviting guests to visit and feel safe while using the toilet at night,” she says.

The loan payments for the new latrine will amount to 66,000 rupees (roughly $5) a week for three years. Nurita has already paid back five other loans from the cooperative KPP, and has most recently used another loan to support her growing business—a local shop.

The IUWASH project, in addition to providing loans to local families, has also trained and developed small-scale construction contractors to build the new systems that include directions on system use, maintenance and repair. This ensures that the latrine will remain a sustainable, safe addition to Nurita’s home.

Contractors trained by the IUWASH program are currently building a latrine for Aas*, a mother of four, and her family. This is not the first time Aas has received microfinance support from KPP. She has taken out five other loans, including one to launch her husband’s shoe repair business. Four of the loans have already been paid back.

Through microfinance services, Aas is providing opportunities to her family that she did not have growing up. “Due to these loans,” she says, “I am able to remodel and expand my house while gaining access to water and sanitation, and that makes me very happy.”

Global recognition of the importance of access to sanitation is growing. This year, the United Nations declared “clean water and sanitation” as one of its 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

In Indonesia, significant progress is already being made through projects like IUWASH. Over the past 25 years, access to sanitation facilities has nearly doubled across the country, increasing from 35 percent in 1990 to 61 percent in 2015.

USAID and KPP plan to push this figure even higher by becoming a model for other cooperatives and credit unions across Indonesia. Although sanitation loans are not a part of most microfinance programs in the country, Nurita and Aas demonstrate the potential such projects have to transform communities into safer, healthier places.

The Indonesia Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene project, which runs from 2011 to 2016, is designed to help the Government of Indonesia significantly progress toward its safe water and sanitation Millennium Development Goal targets by expanding access to these services.

*Full names not available.

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Last updated: November 18, 2015

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