Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post, Padang | Fri, 11/07/2008 10:56 AM
Four more cities will take part in an urban sanitation development program that has been jointly funded by the Indonesian and Dutch governments since 2007, an official says.
The four cities, which will join the program next year, are Semarang (Central Java), Kediri (East Java), Padang and Bukittinggi (both in West Sumatra). Ten other cities joined the program in 2007 and 2008.
Representatives of each of the 14 cities will take part in a three-day workshop on urban sanitation opened in Payakumbuh, West Sumatra, on Thursday.
"They will share their respective experiences in managing urban sanitation," said Fernando M. Siagian of the Home Ministry's directorate of natural resources and effective and efficient technology.
"We hope the workshop will result in more support and stronger commitment from the cities' authorities," Siagian told a press conference held here Wednesday.
The urban sanitation program, Siagian said, was part of the National Development Planning Board's (Bappenas) Indonesian Sanitation Sector Development Program (SSDP) and the Trust Fund's Water and Sanitation Program (WASAP) jointly funded by the Indonesian and Dutch governments.
It was initially implemented by six cities, Payakumbuh (West Sumatra), Blitar (East Java), Surakarta (Central Java), Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan), Jambi (Jambi) and Denpasar (Bali).
Siagian said they were included in the program after jointly signing the "Blitar Declaration" on Mar. 27, 2007, which was a pledge by each city to implement a pro-poor sanitation development program as part of their development policies.
The six original cities were chosen, he added, because their mayors had made a pledge to seriously manage urban sanitation and allocate part of their budget to make it a success.
"The six cities are expected to make themselves a model in urban sanitation management," he said.
Siagian also said that even before signing the declaration, the six cities had been implementing a planned sanitation management program involving the community.
"The achievements were different from one city to another. In Payakumbuh, for example, sanitation management was included in its main middle-term urban sanitation strategy," Siagian said.
The four cities that joined the program this year are Central Java's Tegal and Pekalongan and East Java's Batu and Malang.
Siagian said sanitation must be considered a priority in a city's development policy, especially considering that 36 out of 1,000 children under five years old die each year because of poor sanitation.
At the same time, he added, 70 percent of the country's rivers are polluted by garbage and other waste, while almost two million tons of the 6.4 millions tons of sewage produced annually had yet to be handled properly.
He also expressed concern that most cities in Indonesia had yet to manage their sanitation well even though it was a determining factor in the health of residents and the environment.
"In many cases, the human sewage and waste in urban areas cannot be managed properly because of a lack of awareness among the community and a lack of good planning from the city administrations," he said.