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Currently in Timor Leste there is a no reliable regulated water supply, and typically drinking water is either imported bottled water or must be drawn from wells, bores and springs, and then boiled to make it safe for consumption.  

“Ensuring the availability of clean water is very labour intensive, with a substantial amount of time spent fetching water and firewood.” Explains Tim Anderson, EWB-Australia Project Manager for Lafaek Water. "By improving access to safe potable water we can lessen this burden." Environmental outcomes could also improve due to a reduction over time in the current imported bottled water supply, and in the carbon emissions associated with burning wood/biomass to boil water.

Above: Cutting the ribbon to formally open the project (l-r): Sr Simao Baretto CNEFP, Mr Dan Woods DFAT, Mr Graeme Wise WISE Foundation, Mr Peter Baynard-Smith EWB

“After the initial test phase is completed, we may have an evidence base to proceed to the next phase. At present, our goal is to ensure that the technology woks as intended in the different social and environmental conditions across our test sites”, explains Tim Anderson, Lafaek Water Project Director. "It is very important that we have robust data to demonstrate the effectiveness of the water treatment plants. We are grateful to the Government of Timor-Leste who are supporting this approach through access for the Project to their sophisticated water testing laboratories, which will allow independent verification of the water quality data collected during the trials."

“We are also very pleased to have the support of Mr Graeme Wise from The WISE Foundation, CNEFP and the Australian Government for this initiative.” Says Tim. “Such projects are not possible without the assistance of large teams of technical staff and the on-the-ground assistance from our local partners. Their support, and that of the Government of Timor-Leste, will help ensure success.”

If the Lafaek Water pilot proves successful, this approach has the potential to help build locally owned and managed water infrastructure and support education, employment and business opportunities for young people across Timor Leste. As a real world case study in how innovative technology deployed via a social enterprise model can achieve social impact at scale, the team are keen to share evidence-based learnings to facilitate the development of other social enterprises. “We will assess if and how this model could be expanded nationally, and perhaps also into the Pacific.” says Tim.

The Lafaek Water pilot program is an initiative of EWB-Australia and The Wise Foundation, in partnership with CNEFP (National Centre for Employment and Professional Training of Tibar) and supported by the DFAT Technology Against Poverty Prize – a $, grant provided by innovationXchange as part of the Google Impact Challenge.