October 13, 2014
While improving local sanitation conditions is a difficult job with often little reward, such was not the case for Pak Mulyadi, a health worker from the Kedaung Barat Health Center in Tangerang District, Indonesia. Working as a sanitarian for the local health department, Mulyadi received training and support from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Indonesia Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (IUWASH) project on how to best promote sanitation improvement in the local community of Damprit Village where his health center is based. He has since overseen programs which have led to about 80 percent of the households building safe latrine systems. For his efforts, Mulyadi was recently honored with a Presidential Award for being a “National Exemplary Health Worker.”
Previously referred to locally by the derogatory nickname “Feces Village” due to the widespread acceptance of open defecation, Damprit was considered a significant health risk. When an opportunity to change the mindset of its inhabitants opened up with the arrival of the USAID/IUWASH project, Mulyadi seized it. Drawn to the area by its high prevalence of sanitation-related disease, USAID/IUWASH organized training to promote sanitation and entrepreneurship, and what seemed an impossible task started to come within reach.
“With all the things I’ve learned from the trainings conducted by IUWASH, my faith in the ability of the community to change its habits has increased, my work is paying off,” Mulyadi said. Especially appreciative of the project’s “sanitation marketing” approach that applies social and commercial marketing approaches for increasing demand for sanitation, Mulyadi has seen the benefits. “Even though it does not give an instant result and is hard work, the IUWASH approach has proven very effective and has prompted the community to undertake what I previously thought was impossible. This has not only had a positive impact on their health, but also in the pride they feel as a community.”
Despite winning the award, Mulyadi said his work is far from over: “Even though the results have gone far beyond my expectations, my work is not yet done and many challenges lie ahead.”
In recent years tens of thousands of people have died—including more than 18,000 in the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic—of disease born from the interaction of people, animals, and ecosystems.Read More