Indonesia striving to supply potable water

Indonesia striving to supply potable water

Residents fill water distributed by the Regional Water Company (PDAM). (ANTARA FOTO/Muhammad Arif Pribadi)

We will try to send this message to the delegates of the Asia-Africa Conference."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Of the over 250 million population of Indonesia, only 11 million households currently have access to piped water, which is mostly supplied by regional drinking water companies (PDAMs).

The remainder of the population relies on wells, springs, and rainwater harvesting.

Safe drinking water is crucial for health, therefore, the government hopes for most Indonesian people to have access to clean water.

By the end of 2019, the countrys drinking water supply coverage is expected touch reach 60 percent of the population, while the remaining 40 percent will continue to rely on other sources.

"At present, 11 million households in Indonesia have clean water pipeline connections. We aim to reach 27.6 million households by 2019," the Chairman of the Drinking Water Supply System Development Supporting Agency (BPPSPAM) Tamin M. Zakaria Amin said in a press statement on last Thursday.

He explained that funds amounting to Rp253 trillion would be required to finance the first installment of pipeline connections. Allocations from the State Budget (APBN), the Provincial and District/City Budget (APBD), and the Regional Drinking Water Supply Companies (PDAMs) are expected to cover the funding.

Amin also urged the Regional Clean Water Supply Companies (PDAMs) to have a clear business plan in place to meet the publics demand for a reliable and clean water supply.

"I think the State Budget (APBN) is ready to support the PDAM, but it must have a clear plan, for instance, as to who will build the distribution network," the Chairman of BPPSPAM noted.

According to a recent study, of the 359 clean water supply companies in Indonesia, only 182 are categorized as healthy, 103 are deemed not healthy enough, and 74 are considered unhealthy.

Zakaria also expressed support for establishing a synergy and cooperation among regions to expand the clean water supply service to the public.

The BPPSPAM is also expected to attract quality investors keen on expanding and improving clean water supply services across Indonesia.

To accelerate the realization of the drinking water pipeline connection projects, the role of BPPSPAM will be strengthened through a draft government regulation on Drinking Water Supply System Management, deliberations over which are ongoing.

"The role of BPPSPAM will be strengthened, increased and made more strategic," the Director of the Ministrys Drinking Water Development Department M. Natsir affirmed.

The agency is expected to focus more on supporting and guiding PDAMs. So far, it has only given recommendations, but it will now be given the authority to speak with the Home Affairs Ministry and with regional administrations about implementing its tasks.

For this purpose, members of the agency will include officials of the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry, as well as of the Home Affairs Ministry.

Improved accessibility to safe water is urgent because Indonesia is now facing difficulties in its efforts to achieve sanitation for all by 2019, the Director of Environmental Health and Settlement Development of the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry, M. Maliki Moersyid, pointed out.

The ministry needs assistance from BPPSPAM for finance related-sanitation projects, he revealed.

As many developing countries are facing similar clean water problems, an Indonesian NGO had suggested that participants at the Asia-Africa Conference (AAC) Summit 2015, which will be held in Jakarta and Bandung from April 19 to 24, should also discuss water issues, particularly regarding the problems of water company privatization.

"The water privatization issue must be paid attention to by participants of the AAC, because some countries in Asia and Africa, such as Bolivia, Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria have conducted water privatization," Dadan Ramdan, chairman of the Indonesian Environmental Forums (Walhis) West Java chapter, said recently.

He said Indonesia had made a significant change by rejecting water privatization and returning the rights of water to the public.

"We will try to send this message to the delegates of the Asia-Africa Conference," he stated.

Two important court rulings were issued in Indonesia earlier this year that established water accessibility as a basic right of the public, rather than giving water the status of a business commodity.

In mid-February, the Indonesian Constitutional Court (MK) revoked the 2004 Water Resources Law, which paved the way for the state to take full control of water resources from the private sector and for concessions to be granted on water resources for companies that sell water-based products.

The second important ruling was issued by the Central Jakarta District Court on March 24, which accepted a lawsuit from the Coalition of Jakarta Residents Opposing Water Privatization (KMMSAJ).

The residents claimed that water services coverage was low and water leakage levels were high, while water tariffs had grown four-fold since water privatization came into force.

The citizens had sued the President, Vice President, the Finance Minister, Public Works Minister, the Governor of Jakarta, and legislators from the city, as well as water supply companies PAM Jaya, Palyja, and Aetra.

The court ruled that the government must stop the privatization of water in Jakarta and return the role of water management to the state.