A Journey to Improve Living Conditions in South-east Asia, by WISE

“WISE is a non-profit organisation started by me and my Indonesian colleagues almost 2 years ago. I had been involved in water-related issues since university, where I joined Engineers Without Borders UK and did a project on faecal sludge management (toilets!) as part of my civil and environmental engineering degree. I didn’t look back. I went on to work on similar projects in countries such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka. I eventually ended up in Bandung, Indonesia, writing a PhD dissertation exploring innovation post-disaster sanitation technologies (toilets again!). This is where I met my co-founder, Dian, who was studying in the department. Clearly, we have a joint interest in faecal matters 💩..

For me, it’s not that I have a particular passion in water and sanitation – I could have just as easily ended up in education, or energy. Rather, I believe that everyone has a right to life with dignity, and this is where my expertise can best make a difference.

I love how WISE is trying to achieve its vision of universal and equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene in South-east Asia. We are building a team driven by South-east Asians because we understand that projects must be driven by the people who understand, who live, the problem in order for the solutions to be relevant and effective. Take for example, our project in Phnom Village, Cambodia. Only 29 of the 101 households have toilets, the lowest access in the commune. This month, we will be facilitating a community planning process, called the Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation approach, that is designed to increase the self-esteem of the villagers and empower them to take ownership of planning and implementing sanitation improvements. This participatory process may take significantly more time and effort on our part, compared to simply constructing toilets for people, but I have witnessed enough abandoned and broken down toilets to know that imposing a solution on the community will not achieve sustainable impact.

The best part of my work is working with youth from across Southeast Asia who want to make a difference in their own communities, and I hope WISE can continue to provide such opportunities for years to come.”

Check out the crowdfunding campaign page of WISE below:

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