August 25 - 31, 2013: Issue 125

 Clean Water for Soibada
By Tamara Sloper Harding

During our visit to Timor Leste in July we identified numerous many exciting projects that will enhance the lives of our friends in Soibada. It can be quite overwhelming at times – especially once you have witnessed the extent of their needs. Keeping in mind that we are aiming at facilitating “sustainable” development, rather than enabling the continuation of a “hand out” poverty type mentality, it is important to focus on the long term results. For volunteers this is difficult as these results are not as immediately apparent as a quick fix donation would be.

Water is the essence of life, a resource second in importance only to oxygen. Timor Leste is the poorest nation in Asia, and one of the poorest in the world. Access to safe water and hygienic sanitation is a significant problem. Nearly two thirds of the population live in rural areas. There is either no or very limited access to safe drinking water. During the struggle for independence in 1999 water sources were deliberately contaminated.

Unclean water, poor sanitation and unsafe hygiene practices have claimed 100s of lives in Timor Leste. There is high rainfall in the wet season (our summer), and abundant natural springs all over the island. Despite all this rain and the springs the people there have only a fraction of the water that we have to use each day. One flush of our toilets is what the average person living in Timor Leste uses all day. Water related diseases, such as diarrhoea, malaria, and dengue fever represent some of the most common childhood illnesses in East Timor and are significant contributing factors towards the high infant mortality rate of 126 per 1000 live births.

International aid agencies are assisting the Timorese by building systems to bring the water to the people. The water sources are natural mountain springs and water is piped down the mountains and through the valleys to taps which are close to the villagers homes. This means that people will have year round access to clean water close at hand for their daily needs. For the poor, the public taps are usually the only source of clean water, fulfilling a basic need. One of the first tasks to build the system is the cleaning of the source. The springs are often filled with mud and rocks which reduces the quantity of water produced and also affects the quality. An open water source also means that it can be easily contaminated.

A priority for Soibada is that we assist the community to develop access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities in conjunction with a hygiene education program. Last month, Rob Romer of Bilgola visited Soibada with our team to assess the water difficulties in the community. Rob is the inventor of the TankPro TP250 water sterilisation unit. He was the 2012 recipient of a National Sustainability Award. Although extremely useful here in Australia the unit can be used to help people in developing countries access clean drinking water and could also be used in disaster relief operations. It is the first ever small-scale electrolysis unit for sterilising drinking water.

As a portable unit the TankPro TP250 can sterilise collected water within a matter of moments using the smallest of water containers/collection units. The unit Sterilises water through electrolysis and the minerals in water are broken down to produce chlorine. The chlorine kills disease-causing pathogens in the water, making it safe to drink. The TankPro TP250 Unit can be utilised with the Powerpack (supplied) or connected to a wind turbine generator, solar power, or used in short succession integrating car or motorbike battery. The TankPro TP250 Unit provides a fast, potable, clean, safe option to sterilising water, providing safe water for human consumption, quickly limiting and addressing dehydration and sickness.

Rob’s family generously donated 5 units to Soibada in July. The tank near the school in Tasi Fatin supplies the entire Suco (sub village) with water. Rob also installed a solar panel to power it. The consequences of this for Tasi Fatin are endless.

In order to sustain projects such as this one of our priorities is fundraising. We have two exciting programs running at the moment.

Soibada Fundraising Wine
Soibada Fundraising wine is available for purchase either on line or over the phone. All of these wines are sourced from boutique vineyards and wineries throughout Australia & New Zealand. They are true to regional & varietal style, are delicious, offer outstanding value for money and come with a money back guarantee. All are labelled with the exclusive Friends of Soibada label & profits go directly to the village in Timor Leste. 

Minimum order is 12 and you can mix your orders from the selections on the website. Phone: 02 9181 4311 or visit their website HERE

A beautiful silver charm in the shape of an Uma Lulik, the easily recognizable Timorese Sacred House, has been designed in partnership with the small company “Beside Them”. 

$10 from every sale will go towards projects in Soibada. 

You can purchase them online at and go to the heading “Army” 

Or at this direct link