The Lacau Primary School in the Lete-Foho subdistrict of Ermera, Timor- Leste is located in one of the most remote places imaginable — on a lonely mountainside facing into a deep valley, with only a weathered dirt road connecting it to the surrounding encampments (calling them villages would be an overstatement). Lete-Foho is the closest village to the school, but even driving by car it takes a good 45 minutes to reach it.
The school doesn’t have access to clean drinking water, electricity or basic sanitation. While there is a water tank which is fed by a water source slightly further up the mountain, this water isn’t filtered or even boiled and thus poses a serious health concern to anyone consuming it — which the children studying at the school and most people in the community do on a daily basis.
While the children are given lunch every day, they are currently subjected to the contaminated drinking water every day without a feasible alternative as bottled water is only very scarcely available.
In addition to this, since there is no access to electricity meals are prepared using a “traditional” kitchen — cooking over an pen fire. Cooking is such a way is not only harmful to the long- term health of the children due to the smoke and fumes being inhaled, but there is also a considerable fire risk given that many structures are made primarily of wood.
In addition to this, not having any electricity means that the school can only operate during strong daylight, as with no electric lighting they are entirely dependent on the sun to provide enough visibility in the already dark classrooms.
Electricity will also be required for the Trunz water machine to function since the water will need to be pumped up during the dry season.
Not only does the school lack the basic amenities of clean water
and electricity, but there is also a severe lack in hygiene standards. There are toilets at the school, but there is no running water to flush these toilets and the water basin used to clean the user and the toilet can hardly be considered sanitary. With a water machine and a modernization of plumbing systems this issue can also be resolved, however it is likely that a second or larger water machine may be required.
All of these factors pose a serious health risk to the 243 children and teachers studying and working there, as well as the community which is largely dependent on it’s drinking water from the same source. In order to bring this school and community into the 21st century all three of theres factors need to be addressed in a consolidated project — each factor being interlinked with the others.