Why water self supply solutions are needed to reach SDG 6.1

Only 9% of the 275 million Indonesians use piped water supplied by water utilities for their daily needs  and this percentage is decreasing.  In this Blog we talk why governments and other institutions should prioritize self-supply solutions.  We also discuss how decentralized water supply and treatment can help to  achieve universal access to safely managed drinking water.

To achieve universal access to safely managed drinking water by 2030, the Indonesian government and international institutions like the World Bank have focused on increasing piped water access. However, as in many developing countries in the global south, access to piped water in Indonesia remains exceedingly low. Local water utility companies, known as PDAM, only reach about 20% of Indonesian households, of which, less than half use PDAM water for their daily needs [1]. Since only 9% of Indonesians use PDAM supplied water, this implies that 91% of Indonesia’s population use groundwater for domestic use. 91% of Indonesia’s population of 275 million people is around 250.25 million people. To put that number in perspective, that’s larger than the populations of Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, and Denmark combined!

Piped vs non piped water access in Indonesia. Showing learly importance of self supply for safely managed drinking water
Can Piped Water Meet Indonesia’s Domestic Needs? 

Water utilities should serve 40 percent of the population by 2019. At least that was planned in the Indonesian Government’s 2015–2019 medium term development plan.  As we now know, this target was not met and was moved to the 2020–2024 plan. However the question remains, why does Indonesian government planning focus so heavily on piped water? One reason may come with the prestige that comes with having advanced public utility service.  Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that piped water will play a leading role in achieving universal access to safely managed drinking water, and here’s why: 

  1. For decades PDAMs have struggled to meet demand from rapid urbanization. This has led to groundwater overexploitation in many urban areas leading to land subsidence, most notably in Jakarta.
  2. Bulk raw water resources only supply 30 percent of total demand. With no clear path towards increasing supply, this has led to many PDAMs providing only intermittent service. 
  3. Higher tariffs incentivize PDAMs to prioritize water allocation to industrial usage. This is especially true in low income areas where tariff collection rates are lower. 
  4. Once a well is dug, groundwater is essentially free, compared with having to pay a monthly bill with PDAM water.

[Source: The World Bank Group. “Indonesia:Vision 2045. Towards Water Security” ]

Even where access exists, the source is often not safely managed. 

With PDAMs struggling to meet even a quarter of domestic demand, it’s no surprise that water quality has taken the back burner. A government study conducted in 2020 found 148 PDAMs produced water that was not safe to drink [2]. Another study in Yogyakarta found 77% of piped water was contaminated with e-coli [3]. This isn’t to say that groundwater quality is any better, in fact it’s often worse, especially if coming from an unprotected source. One study in Jakarta found 24% of samples coming from a groundwater source had fecal matter compared with just 3% coming from piped water [4]. Even bottled water isn’t necessarily free from contamination. In both aforementioned studies, e-coli was detected in water purchased from refill kiosks.

Solution: Decentralized, self-help centered water filters.

In order to achieve SDG target 6.1 Indonesia must achieve universal access to safely managed drinking water by 2030. However, only 12 percent of Indonesia’s population currently has such access. The 242 million Indonesians without access to safely managed drinking water cannot wait for expensive centralized utility projects and it’s unrealistic that these will reach all rural-communities. 

Surely, in certain contexts, such as high density urban areas, investing in piped water utilities may make sense. However, as Unicef states in their recent policy brief, self supply solutions with appropriate household water treatment are in important part of the safely managed water supply mix.  Household water purifiers, like the ones produced by Nazava, provide households with a tool to filter rain, tap, and groundwater into water that is safe to drink in a matter of hours. Nazava filters have been tested in dozens of laboratories worldwide and are certified by WHO for bacterial removal. Together, with investment in safe and sustainably managed groundwater, household water treatment solutions play a critical role in filling the gap between the water that is available and water that is safe to drink.

A women collecting water from a well.

70% of Indonesians well water for their daily needs, but this water is not safe to drink. Using a Nazava Water Filter can make the well water that Indonesias are already use for cooking, cleaning, and bathing safe to drink.

Author: Steven Ramsey, [email protected]


[1]: Priadi, C., Putri, G. L., Foster, T., Willetts, J., & Odagiri, M. (2022, February). Policy brief self-supply for safely managed water – UNICEF. Self-supply for safely managed water: To promote or to deter? Policy brief. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.unicef.org/indonesia/media/13706/file/Self-supply%20for%20safely%20managed%20water.pdf

[2]: Susanto, V. Y. (2021, January 28). Kementerian Pupr menyebut 148 PDAM Memiliki Kinerja Kurang Sehat Dan Sakit. kontan.co.id. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://nasional.kontan.co.id/news/kementerian-pupr-menyebut-148-pdam-memiliki-kinerja-kurang-sehat-dan-sakit

[3]: Cronin A. A., Odagiri M., Arsyad B., Nuryetty M. T., Amannullah G., Santoso H., Darundiyah K. & Nasution N. A. (2017). Piloting water quality testing coupled with a national socioeconomic survey in Yogyakarta Province, Indonesia, towards tracking of Sustainable Development Goal 6. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 220(7), 11411151. doi:10.1016/j.ijheh.2017.07.001.

[4]: Vollaard , A. M., Soegianto, A., Smet, J., van Asten, H., Widjaja, S., Visser, L., Surjadi, C., & van Dissel, J. T. (2005). A SURVEY OF THE SUPPLY AND BACTERIOLOGIC QUALITY OF DRINKING WATER AND SANITATION IN JAKARTA, INDONESIA. The Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, 03(6), 1552–1561.