The sub-village of (Kampung Sukamadju) Desa Sukajaya in the Garut District of West Java, Indonesia lacked access to a steady supply of clean water which hampered the hygiene level of its residents, particularly for the women and children. Only 5% of the residents had access to a public latrine and only 45% had access to clean water. With poor road conditions leading to the isolated village, local authorities are able to provide little attention to the health conditions of the village residents.
Consisting of 240 households, spread across 5 neighbourhoods, the village folk managed to attain only low education levels, with very few even finishing their primary school studies. The villagers, however, are aware of its shortcomings, and on their own initiative, established a village health forum to address the many health issues that the village faces. However, the local village leader has no or little access to his local legislative members.
The University of Indonesia recognized the need to provide the village access to clean water supply through active and meaningful community engagement by educating the residents within the village. A team from the university was deployed to train the villagers, and to develop effective communication materials that can assist the residents to effectively campaign for its own water supply. The village health forum was used to channel these efforts to educate the residents.
The main goal for the University team was to transform the village to become more self-reliant in solving its own health problems, especially where the issue of clean water supply was concerned. Among its main concerns, was to empower the village members to gain a strategic partnership with the relevant local stake holders and mass media, and to educate the residents about communication as well as documenting and writing proposal skills to acquire better amenities for the community. This would eventually become an effective tool for dialog with the local government and with their district legislative members.
Students and academic staff from the University engaged with the village members to give the residents practical skills that would help them in advocating health issues to the relevant authorities, and to give hands-on training on community empowerment. The team was also able to create a short video for the villagers that is now being used as a tool for public health advocacy.
Through this active community engagement by the University, the residents with the assistance of its students were able to write effective proposals for clean water supply and for public latrines that improved their environmental hygiene levels in the village. The residents have also established a strategic partnership with relevant local NGO of civil society.
In 2011, the people of the sub-village of Sukamaju received their first physical infrastructure for clean water supply and public latrines, supported by public funds through the local district government.
Professor, Department of Health Education & Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Pulic Health, Universitas Indonesia (FKM UI)
Graduate student, Department of Health Education & Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Pulic Health, Universitas Indonesia (FKM UI)
 Asistant lecturer,Department of Health Education & Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Pulic Health, Universitas Indonesia (FKM UI)