Beyond Box Ticking - Sanitation and Women's Participation
26 Feb 2016
Ir. Rina Agustin, MURP

Commitment from the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (MPWH) for the implementation of gender mainstreaming has been widely recognised. MPWH’s Directorate of Human Settlements (DGHS) has made a significant contribution to this achievement. In 2013, Ir. Rina Agustin, MURP, as the leader of the Working Group for Gender Mainstreaming at DGHS and Secretary of the Directorate General at Cipta Karya, initiated the development of a ‘Guidance for Gender Integration in the Institutional-Based Wastewater Management Program’ together with IndII. This guidance is one of the references utilised by Rina’s team in various workshops for sanitation motivators and regional government representatives in charge of drinking water and sanitation. Rina shared her experiences with IndII of working on sanitation issues, and women’s participation in the program. The following is an excerpt of the interview.

How did you initially begin restructuring in sanitation works and what challenges did you face?

The public and local governments were often hesitant to do something related to sanitation. "Why do we have to pay to defecate?" they asked. I felt challenged and decided to do something. While I was still working at the Directorate of Environmental Health Development (Direktorat Pengembangan Penyehatan Lingkungan Permukiman, or PPLP) I wondered why people refused the sanitation program. In early 2011, I was appointed to lead the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) in PPSP1. In this position there were many opportunities to undertake innovation in the field of sanitation. I had the opportunity to meet with regional leaders and to find out the extent of their attention to sanitation. I organised a series of meetings, starting internally with a working unit at MPWH. At that time I was appointed to lead a PPLP coordination meeting throughout Indonesia (33 provinces). Indeed, I had just been appointed.

In various meetings with heads of regencies/mayoralties, I learned that they do not know what good sanitation is about, what TPA [final waste disposal] is for, and how waste is processed. So how could they accept a sanitation program if they do not know what it is? I am therefore compelled to create programs that directly target the needs of the regency and mayoralty governments.

So how did you introduce a sanitation program to them?

I began by introducing a sanitation sub sector ranging from solid waste to wastewater and drainage and organising a socialisation program in the field. I invited regional leaders to visit TPA sites. I explained to them what a good TPA is. We visited TPAs in Aceh, Balikpapan, Kendari, and Malang. All local government representatives were present and some even came with Heads of Local Government Unit (Satuan Kerja Perangkat Daerah, or SKPD) and members of the Regional Representatives Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah, or DPRD); they engaged in dialogue and demonstrated their interest. By witnessing the evidence themselves, and not only hearing about it in the trainings, they are motivated to act. If we are serious, we can implement a sanitation program. If the result is not good, we will try to fix it. Sanitation programs are provided to local governments based on their interest, not from a top down approach.

So far we have managed to invite 340 regencies and mayoralties which are interested in the PPSP program. If they really want it, only then we can build sanitation facilities. Five years ago our target was 230 regencies and mayoralties, so the number we have achieved has exceeded the target.

In addition to field visits, what is the other strategy that you applied?

Our team has a limited number of experts. Our human resources have all been mobilised to take care of many things. So we are looking for people who can become motivators from any field of knowledge and expertise as far as it is related to sanitation – such as from the academic community, practitioners, and professionals. We invite them to come to an event and form a network gradually. We even invite motivators from the regencies and mayoralties to get involved. We persuade them to participate in socialisation in other areas as well. So now we have a lot of people as our arms functioning as sanitation motivators. They are scattered in all provinces. This is in accordance with the community-based sanitation program (SANIMAS) which emphasises community participation in the management of wastewater. With a lack of knowledge of a majority of people on sanitation, the community-based approach is very relevant. Therefore, we need a lot of motivators. But now, there isn’t a shortage of experts anymore. We call the motivators "Sanitation Warriors".

What is the role and impact of the Sanitation Warriors so far?

It can be seen that in the cities with active Sanitation Warriors, the list of participants to join the program is rising. In the past, it was very difficult to build three locations (for sanitation program) in one town. Now, many sub districts (villages) are trying to get sanitation connections for households and they queue to sign up to the related Office of Public Works.

What is the key to the successful implementation of the sanitation program?

Sanitation Warriors must go to the field, get close to the people and explain the benefits of sanitation to them. If the aim (of the organisers) is only to get the project, sanitation will not be successful. The budget for one package of the government program is around Rp 350 million for 50-100 heads of family; sub districts are now queuing up to apply for the program. Previously, it was very difficult. The cities with successful programs and where the interest is very high are Jombang, Probolinggo, Gresik, Gorontalo, Sleman and Bantul.

What is the level of women's participation in this program?

At the beginning of the introduction of SANIMAS program, we provided the Warriors of Sanitation with knowledge on gender including the importance of women's roles. The facilitators must be proactive to conduct socialisation anywhere. Do not wait for women to come to the meetings only. We conduct socialisation using band performance and dangdut music shows. We invite women. Those who initially did not want to come finally participated after they learned that there is a live music performance. During this music performance, we inserted messages on sanitation. This approach turned out to be effective with them highly spirited. When I visited the field, I noticed that many heads of Community Self-Reliance Agency (Badan Keswadayaan Masyarakat, or BKM) and the drivers actively involved in the socialisation program were mostly women. Women's role in the socialisation process is very significant.

DGHS at MPWH, with the support of IndII, has produced a gender manual for the water and sanitation program, in which you are one of the initiators. Can you tell us about the origin of this idea?

At MPWH, we have had commitments to build infrastructure taking into account the aspect of gender; we also have had a gender mainstreaming secretariat in place. The program that included Asian Development Bank assistance also required the participation of women. I learned a lot about gender aspects when I joined activities of an ADB program in Vietnam. Then when we collaborated with IndII, the requirement for gender equality was the key focus; women as drivers as well as the target group. The provisions in the IndII program are very detailed. There is a survey and institutional-based provision. We also applied [the gender principles outlined in] this manual in the cities with the existing wastewater system.

How is the socialisation?

Socialisation of this manual was conducted in accordance with the needs of each region. If we meet with local leaders we encourage them to use a variety of media and include women's groups. In various regions there is PKK [Pembinaan Kesejahteraan Keluarga, or Family Welfare Movement]; for instance the wife of East Java Governor mobilised PKK members to get involved in the sanitation program. [Note IndII: At the end of 2013 this manual had been tested by the Ministry of Women's Empowerment in Balikpapan to SKPD (regional government agencies) on sanitation issues. In 2015, this manual had also been distributed and socialised in the regional workshops in Batam, Riau Islands, which invited SKPDs from various regencies and mayoralties in Riau Islands].

Now there is a plan to cooperate with the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection to conduct socialisation on sanitation with PKK members as the target group. Module(s) for this will be prepared later. DGHS will also contribute by conducting monitoring and evaluation of this socialisation program. At MPWH, we also try to publish news on this activity every day. Several sanitation materials and activities have been documented through collaboration with state-owned television station TVRI.

I will also invite friends (from other agencies) to actively support the sanitation works. In fact I have a WhatsApp group in which the contents focus on discussing sanitation issues.

What is the learning that you can share with us related to gender dimension in the sanitation program?

Gender aspects, particularly the participation of women, can be seen from two angles, namely as drivers and as a target group. As drivers, we must go to the field to introduce our programs to everyone, including women, children and others. The target group means that we have to listen to their needs directly – the needs of women and children. So we must be directly involved and give examples so that they have no doubt about the program.

Note: 1In 2009 the Ministry of Public Works and the National Development Planning Agency, Bappenas, launched a roadmap called “Acceleration of Sanitation Development in Human Settlements” (Percepatan Pembangunan Sanitasi Permukiman, or PPSP) 2010-2014. The roadmap targets 330 cities that have sanitation problems, and aims at abolishing open defecation, improving solid waste management and reducing flooding.