Creating a healthy environment for children in rural communities

Creating a healthy environment for children in rural communities

After I collected the water, I would go to school and feel tired in the classroom. But when I first heard that I didn’t have to collect water because of the water system with the pump, I was so happy! Now I have time to play with my friends, go to school and sing!

Ludivina, 9 year old from Aileu District.


Lack of access to safe water and sanitation is a major development challenge in rural Timor-Leste, impacting several MDGs. Preventable diseases related to water like diarrhoea and acute respiratory diseases are a main cause for the high under five mortality. In 2010, only 57% of the population in rural Timor-Leste had access to safe drinking water and only 25% of this group had improved sanitation facilities.


  • Improved child survival and decreased maternal mortality.
  • Improved livelihood, nutritional and educational outcomes.


  • Completed 26 community water systems (with 7 nearing completion) benefitting 1 055 households/5 950 persons.
  • Formed and trained 32 Group Management Facility (GMF) or water management group have been formed.
  • Initiated Community led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in 68 villages with 28 villages declaring themselves Open Defecation Free (ODF) already. The CLTS approach has, so far, benefitted 885 households by encouraging them to build their own latrines, resulting in an overall increase in toilet access from 35% to 65% in these triggered communities.
  • 21 schools surveyed for improving school WASH facilities and creating school hygiene clubs for promoting healthy hygiene practices at school (and at home.)
  • Women and girls encouraged to take on key roles in community/school activities and leadership positions while building technical and management skills for local partners, government counterparts and community leaders.


  • EU contribution to the project: € 1 857 000 (75% of total)
  • Target location: Districts Aileu (sub-districts Aileu Vila and Laulara) and Lautem (sub-districts Lautem and Los Palos)
  • Target beneficiaries: 5 029 rural households
  • Duration: 4 years (2010 – 2015)


Ludivina and her brother and sister

For Ludivina and her brother and sister, walking up to 3 hours to collect water each day was a normal part of their lives. Walking down a cliff, through long grass and through a swamp they would reach the river, collect litres of water and return home again without help from their parents who work on the family’s small farm.

Exhausted, Ludivina found it hard to concentrate at school and had almost no free time to play and do her homework. After a water system was built near her home, Ludivina now has more time to attend an English school after class and she has become one of the best English speakers in her village.

She has more energy, is healthier and happier now she is no longer doing physically demanding work. Her family have also benefitted from having more water as they can grow more crops and earn a higher income.