Water and sanitation


Priority Issues

UNICEF in Action



Water and sanitation
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014

Every year around 150,000 children die in Indonesia before they can celebrate their fifth birthday, in most cases from preventable causes linked to diarrhoea and pneumonia.  

Over 50 million Indonesians don’t use toilets, which is the second highest number of any country in the world (India is the largest). Open defecation leaves excreta where flies or playing children can carry it into the household and it also can lead to contamination of drinking water with faecal matter.  

Around 88 per cent of deaths caused by diarrhoea are linked to incomplete water, sanitation and hygiene provision. 

Diarrhoea rates are higher by 66 per cent in young children from families practising open defecation in rivers or streams than those in households with a private toilet facility and septic tank. Children in households practicing unsafe disposal of child faeces are 19 per cent more likely to have diarrhoea.

On average, 20 per cent of Indonesians defecate in the open. However, in rural areas this is as high as 29 per cent compared to 13 percent in urban areas.

Approximately 1 in 8 Indonesian households do not have access to safe drinking water sources and in rural areas access to piped water is still below 10 per cent. A joint Government and UNICEF survey in Yogya Province in 2015 showed huge water quality problems with 2 out of 3 drinking water samples contaminated with faecal bacteria.

Contaminated water has been shown to have a detrimental impact on children’s longterm health, nutritional and educational outcomes. Approximately 9 million Indonesian children are stunted (short for their age). Stunting odds are 1.4 times greater without improved sanitation.

In some areas, less than 50 per cent of people reported handwashing at critical times. 

In schools, only 25 per cent of student toilets are clean and functional while 20 per cent are rated as completely damaged. As many as 1 in 7 girls missed some school during their last menstruation cycle due to a combination of poor facilities in school, taboos around this sensitive topic and boys teasing of girls.



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