Triwik Kurniasari, THE JAKARTA POST, JAKARTA | Tue, 03/31/2009 11:11 AM
Changing people’s mind-set about living healthy and keeping the environment clean is the main key to encouraging people to handle waste management issues, a discussion concluded on Monday.
Sanitation remains a major problem in the capital, with many Jakartans still disposing of human waste into rivers, and even using the rivers over lavatories when nature calls.
National Development and Planning Agency (Bappenas) wastewater unit head Nugroho Tri Utomo said many people did not heed the importance of defecating in lavatories.
“We can see many slum dwellers living along riverbanks, like the Ciliwung, choosing to defecate in the river for practical reasons,” he said.
“Besides, many people who have lavatories at home still build waste pipes from their toilets to nearby rivers. It’s just the same as defecating in the river.”
Most people, he added, were unaware that human waste could pollute river water and cause various diseases, like diarrhea and typhoid.
“But it’s not easy to kick off the habit, since disposing of human waste into rivers has been some kind of culture,” Nugroho said during a discussion about sanitation at Trisakti University.
Ariani Dwi Astuti, head of Trisakti’s School of Environmental Engineering, agreed.
She said it was necessary to create specific toilet designs for people with different backgrounds.
“It’s important to adapt the technology for the local community. We can create a dry toilet for people in East Nusa Tenggara, for instance, since the people usually defecate in dry open air,” Ariani said.
She added the media played a big role in raising awareness about the important of using proper lavatories.
“It’s not easy raising public awareness about using lavatories instead of rivers to defecate in,” she said.
“Putting up ads on local TV is a good and effective way of educating people. The city administration can also take part by giving sanitation education in schools.”
The government, through Vice President Jusuf Kalla, is targeting to rid Indonesia of the habit of defecating in open areas by 2014, in a bid to increase public health quality.
Naning Adisowo, chairwoman of the Indonesian Toilet Association (ATI), urged the city administration to procure more public toilets.
“If the administration provides appropriate toilets in public places, it will prevent people from urinating on bushes or trees,” she said.