The Stirling, Mt. Barker and Murray Bridge clubs raised $22,000 which enabled them to win a Rotary District Global Grant of a further $42,000 to finance a water and sanitation project in Timor-Leste.
The project involved the rehabilitation and expansion of an existing water system in a mountain community south of Dili, the capital, and improving the water supply and sanitation facilities in three local schools. Members of the three sponsoring clubs have just returned from a monitoring visit to report that the project is well underway and on track.
Traditionally, it was the women and children in mountain communities who drew the water in buckets from streams. It was laborious and time-consuming and the streams were becoming increasingly polluted which led to sickness. Villagers also defecated out in the open which exacerbated the health problem. Rotary, with support from NGO Plan International, has been building gravity-fed water systems from natural springs in the surrounding mountains to the villages, sometimes over a distance of more than 3 kilometres.
Long drop toilets have also been built and a strong hygiene culture has been inculcated in the people. The project model meant that the villagers make decisions, e.g. the location of the village tap-stands, and, under guidance, built the physical infrastructure, e.g.  laying of poly-pipe and building of concrete holding tanks.  Community involvement engendered a strong sense of pride and ownership.
                           The Rotary team and partners from Plan
                             The team made some lasting friendships
                     A brand new school toilet block and wash station
This project will directly benefit over 1,500 people for whom Rotary is rehabilitating an old water supply system that is now no longer working because of flaws in the original design. In place of cast-iron pipes, poly-pipe is being laid, pressure tanks (omitted in the original design but now added), holding tanks and new taps are being installed. In the three schools, rainwater tanks, pipes and gutters are being installed and hand-washing stations built.
The project is underpinned by a strong and consistent message of the need for hygiene.
Timor-Leste used to have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. That statistic is improving but there is still a long way to go!