Sanitation in the Community

Open defecation is the standard practice in most Sumbanese villages.  Official 2017 data for Sumba Barat Daya states that still only 25% of residents have toilets.  Many still have no close access to water.

Since our beginning in 2002, YHS has been helping villagers all over Sumba Barat Daya to build over 500 water tanks and wells, and thousands of decent toilets.

In the beginning, the water tanks and toilets we built were often not properly used or maintained.   Other standard unhealthy behaviors in the villages are not washing hands, not boiling or filtering water before drinking it, living in dirty houses and throwing garbage anywhere convenient in the village.

It quickly became very clear that the availability of facilities does not change the habits and behaviour of the population. Therefore, for the last several years YHS has focused on changing the thinking and behaviour of the people towards clean and healthy living; a very long and painstaking process.

We use the renowned CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation) system of triggering a desire in the local people themselves for proper sanitation and healthier habits.   This motivates every household in a village to own and use a good toilet, to wash their hands regularly, to keep their houses and surrounding clean.   It is still slow and needs many repetitions to become the normal way of life, but eventually does become the accepted practice.

Conditions are vastly better now in desa Kali Ngara, for example, where YHS has been working since 2015 with major funding and considerable practical help from a consortium of Rotary Clubs from Oregon, USA and Victoria, Australia, together with matching funds from The Rotary Foundation in the U.S.

Now in 2018 every house in the desa has a good toilet and close access to water.  Regular monitoring shows that all the villagers have changed to using these toilets as a matter of course.


Now in Kali Ngara, nearly everyone habitually drinks boiled or filtered water, disposes of garbage in pits where it is later burned and keeps their house and surroundings clean, and there are no more outbreaks of diarrhea, typhus or other dirt-borne illnesses.

Kali Ngara’s own desa government is so convinced of the improvements that it sets aside funds to help build toilets for families newly moving into the desa.  The head of the village has been staunchly supportive since the beginning, and has played a major part in achieving the lasting improvements for his desa.