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Jakarta Post

IKEA Foundation opens clean water access through micro-finance loans

  • Liza Yosephine

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, March 24, 2016   /  10:44 am
IKEA Foundation opens clean water access through micro-finance loans A small child brushes her teeth with river water. A considerable number of people lack adequate access to clean water and basic sanitation facilities. (Courtesy of the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry/-)

In cooperation with Water.org, the IKEA Foundation will enable 300,000 people to access clean water and sanitation over the next four years through a micro-finance loan program, foundation CEO Per Heggenes said during a discussion in Jakarta.

Around €4 million will be allocated to Indonesia and will see the construction of water wells and pipe connections to the homes of underprivileged communities in rural areas in Java and Sumatra, Heggenes said.

He said Water.org had created a model that would enable poor families to take out loans at a low interest rate.

The families currently spend a lot of money to buy water from vendors and by investing in installing pipes to connect their homes by availing of a one- or two-year loan would enable them to have permanent access to water and change their lives, he added.

"When we provide loans here in Indonesia, 99 percent of all the loans get paid back on time," Heggenes said. 

He said the foundation was committed to creating sustainable water and sanitation facilities and had forged partnerships with local utilities and community-based organizations.

Taking out a micro-finance loan from the foundation will enable families to invest in facilitating access to clean water and sanitation in their homes as part of the fundamentals to improving the quality of life of children and youth, he said.

IKEA Indonesia general manager Mark Magee said that although some families were hesitant about installing water pipes to connect their homes, most had responded positively to the program.

"Out of the 300 homes in a village we visited in Semarang, 270 had connected water pipes to their homes," Magee told thejakartapost.com.

Extensive preparations are done before the construction of a well, he added. A business proposal is prepared by Water.org to be submitted to its partners, which also includes the local government, said Magee. Meanwhile, a topographical study is conducted beforehand in collaboration with local residents to find the best location for the well, he further said.

The program is aimed at tackling the challenges in the lack of access to clean water, Magee continued, adding that different solutions and approaches would be applied to different communities depending on the circumstances.

For example, the well in Semarang was dug to a depth of 48 meters, which is much deeper than average, in order to access the best quality of water, he said.

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