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Project report

Bringing safe water & sanitation to a Manufahi village Timor-Leste , RUN BY: WaterAid Australia | STATUS: COMPLETED

This project is 100% Funded



AUD 28,001

Raised from 13,623 people

Project successes

Thank you for the vital role you are playing in transforming the lives of men,    women, boys and girls in Timor-Leste. Your generous support has provided safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene education to one village, Surirema in Manufahi. This progress report provides information about the community you supported, photos of the people you have helped, and stories telling you how the new facilities have changed their lives.

Surirema village in Manufahi

Surirema village is located in Manufahi, in the sub-district of Same. The village has a population of 242 people, including 111 children. They had to walk about an hour over steep terrain to collect water, and they had to do this about three times a day.

Without a nearby water source the hours spent collecting water would stop the  women and girls from going to school, playing, spending time with their families and other productive activities. 

Without toilets, the community members were going to the bathroom outside. Germs in human waste spread disease and open defecation makes living conditions intolerable and puts people, especially children, at risk of disease and ill health. The lack of safe water and basic toilets means diarrhoeal illnesses were common, one of the leading causes of death among children under five years old in Timor-Leste. Women and girls also faced risks to personal safety and dignity not having access to a safe, private toilet.

The local school had no water access, with the students having to bring at least one jerry can of water to school per day to fill the tank so they could drink clean water and use the toilet. Female students still did not have enough water, with 95% of the students missing school while they were menstruating. Female students told us how going to the toilet outside made them feel: “We were really scared and embarrassed at the same time when we want to do toilet activities at school, because we had to go in an open area near the school, and try to make sure that the boys did not notice us”, said Luciana, a 14 year old student.

New facilities

Thanks to your support, the community members in Surirema village are very pleased with their new facilities.

WaterAid recognises that the ultimate owners of our water and sanitation projects are the community members, who must feel a sense of responsibility and ownership in order to ensure long-term use of the new technology and facilities. We involve community members every step of the process, including in the construction of the water source. 

As a result, the people in the community have a real opportunity to achieve their potential and contribute to the growth and development of their community and country. They can spend time usually lost collecting water focusing on more productive activities, such as small scale farming or attending school.

Work undertaken

Toilet blocks

All 38 homes in the village constructed their own toilets after being motivated by the community led total sanitation process. When community members build their own toilets, they are much more likely to maintain the facilities.   

Drinking water and hand washing facilities 

Eight tap stands were constructed throughout the village, at a distance of only 100 meters from their homes, no more than a ten minute walk. 28 hand washing stands were constructed. Hand-washing alone could cut the risk of diarrhoea almost in half, saving children's lives every day. A girl’s shower block was also constructed at the school.

Hygiene education 

As part of the community led total sanitation process, community members learned about hygiene practices. Improving hygiene behaviour is vital for the full benefits of access to water and sanitation to be realised.


A water user committee was established in the village, made up of men and women who are tasked with ensuring the long term sustainability of the water, taps and toilets. Each household pays 25 cents a month into a maintenance fund. The committee has been trained to fix simple problems, and there is a local government group to help with more complex maintenance issues.

A sustainability officer will also return to the village over the next two years to test the quality of the water source and check that the tap stands are in good working order.

Your impact

Thanks to your support, the community members in Surirema village are very pleased with their new facilities. Eliana, a 14 year old girl, excitedly said: “I now have no worries to attend school even in my menstruation period and know what to do when I get my period at school. Moreover, having toilets and water both at my school and home feels just like receiving a big present when you have your birthday!”

What next? 

Our work in villages like Surirema helps us demonstrate to governments effective ways of supporting communities around the world.

You, our supporters help politicians to understand how much access to water, sanitation and hygiene for the world’s poorest people matters to Australians. You can send a message to world leaders that you care about safe water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone, everywhere by adding your voice to our petition.

How was it this funded?

Thanks to hundreds of tiny donations from these online businesses and their customers.

World Nomads USA
World Nomads Canada
***World Nomads UK
WaterAid Australia

Over 650 million people in the world don’t have access to safe, clean water to drink, and over two billion don’t have sanitation. WaterAid Australia is an international NGO dedicated exclusively to the provision of safe domestic water, sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people.