Clean drinking water for Oksibil in Papua

The purpose of Marketing is to address client needs in a profitable way, by exchanging products for revenue and loyalty. Less fortunate people often do not have the means to provide for vital basic needs. Therefore Philip van den Berg sees it as a social duty to highlight selective humanitarian projects on his marketing blog. Today this concerns ‘Clean Drinking Water for Oksibil’ in West Papua, Indonesia. Born and raised in the Netherlands, this former colony has his special attention.

When water is bad for your health

Health blogs, health coaches and health authorities recommend us to drink two liters of water per day. Still 50% of the world population does not have access to clean drinking water [1] and annually close to 1 million people die from water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases. The lack of basic water and sanitation is estimated to cost $260 billion globally every year. [2]

When clean drinking water is not affordable

In West Papua, due to the high poverty, access to clean water is very low. In remote areas, like Oksibil in the Bintang mountain range, importing clean drinking water is not affordable, as its population of around 4000 people can only be reached by air. From 1970, five years after the area was opened to outsiders, to 1995, the dutch missionary Kees van Dijk worked in the area. He learned one of the six local languages, managed to earn the love and trust of the locals and started to represent them. This continued after he was asked to be based in the capital, Jakarta, in 1995. Still he regularly travels the almost 4000 km to Obsikil to help the locals.

Oksibil is situated in the Pegunungan Bintang mountains in West Papua at 1,307 m elevation and is only reachable by air – photo: Neneng Husein

Water, a gift from heaven

Fr. Kees is now trying to give what the people in Oksibil need the most: clean water. The country’s inspection agency Sucofindo (‘PT Superintending Company of Indonesia’) has declared the water in Oksibil unsafe for drinking. Geological samples in 2016 indicated that even at 90 m deep, only clay and dirt is found. Drilling this deep or even further is economically not feasible. As Oksibil on average has 400-500 mm monthly rainfall, collecting or ‘catching’ rainwater was the next option. A first Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) system with water storage in the ground was built, but this wasn’t resistant to earthquakes. Since 2017 three new earthquake-proof RWH systems with elevated water tanks have been implemented, but they are far from complete. And to serve the regional population minimally, two more will need to be added. After these RWH systems have been completed, the project can be expanded to other areas in West Papua.

Local ownership

To create local ownership and avoid operational dependency on sponsors, Fr. Kees, for building and maintaining the RWH System, insists on the “gotong royong” spirit of local community involvement. The locals help gather materials such as sands and gravel. Other materials like cement, pipes, filters, and storage tanks, have to be air-flown from the capital of West Papua, Jayapura, and especially from Jakarta. Due to the transportation, a sack of cement is 20 times more expensive in Oksibil than in Jakarta.

Water storage tanks, earthquake-proof elevated above the ground – image: Water for Papua

Helping the people of Oksibil

To build one RWH system, it takes 46 sacks of cement at a cost of US$ 4,000, pipes worth US$ 4,100 and a filter with a price of US$ 1,900. This sums up to US$ 10,000, excluding the cost of large capacity water storage tanks. To give the people of Oksibil clean drinking water, five RWH systems are needed. Dear blogreaders, tell your friends about this great project; all promotion and financial support are highly appreciated.

Contact and transfer information

Contributions can be made by bank transfer only to: English-Speaking Catholic Mission, Neptunstrasse 6, 8032 Zürich, Switzerland; IBAN: CH 47 0020 6206 3632 1001 B, BIC: UBSWCHZH80A. Please mention as purpose “Donation Water for Papua / Fr. Kees van Dijk OFM“. More information about the project can be obtained at: water.for.papua@gmail.com. Thank you on behalf of the people of Oksibil for your help to provide something that seems normal for us in the West: clean drinking water for everyone, every day.

Oksibil is located at West Papua province, the far eastern part of Indonesia at its eastern border, south east of the Philippines and close to Australia. Indonesia from west to east measures 5,100 kilometres.

[1] https://www.solidarites.org/en/taking-aid-further/combatting-waterborne-diseases/

[2] https://cleanwaterfund.charity.org/

[3] https://www.wra.org.au/1609wpdcwater