For most of us in New Zealand, drinking a glass of water is a simple undertaking. Yet for women like Estela in Timor Leste, it can take the better part of a day to collect water and boil it so that it is safe for her children to drink.
Every morning, Estela walks a kilometre to the river to collect water. ‘In the rainy season, the water in the river is very dirty and in the dry season we sometimes can’t find water in the river,’ she says. Estela carries the water home and filters it for four to five hours, before collecting wood to build a fire and boil the water. Finally, sometime in the afternoon, the water Estela collected in the morning will be ready to use for drinking and cooking. When her children get sick, Estela worries that it is because of the water. ‘For many years the water we use is dirty. We never get clean water.’
Steady progress has been made in providing people in Timor Leste with access to clean water – only 48% had clean water in 2001 but almost 70% have access to an improved water source now. ChildFund New Zealand is contributing to this effort by building long-lasting water systems for communities. Over three years we will help 2000 families and 20 primary schools receive access to clean water.
‘We hope someday that we will have clean water in our village, the same as people in other villages… We are not alone,’ says Estela. Indeed, Estela’s village is one of the next to receive a new water system from ChildFund New Zealand. This will save her many hours of work each day, while also improving the health of her children.
This project is supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme. For more information about ChildFund's work in Timor-Leste, please visit the Timor-Leste country page.