‘Area liman mos’ - Clean hands for Beremana suco

A woman in a pink shirt is outside in a rural village in Timor-Leste on a sunny day, she is washing her hands with soap using a Tippy Tap

A woman in Beremana suco cleans her hands with soap and water using her household's handwashing station (WaterAid Timor-Leste/Agiu) 


In many rural and remote areas of Timor-Leste, access to basic hygiene and sanitation facilities is challenging - shared between many households or even the whole village - or does not exist at all.


But a partnership between WaterAid in Timor-Leste and local community organisations, Luta ba Futuru (Fight for the Future) and Luta ba Mudansa (Fight for Change), is helping to turn the tide on this situation by supporting households across sucos (villages) to access affordable local materials and the information needed to build their own handwashing facilities and improved latrines. 


In Manufahi municipality, a mountainous area central to the country, sanitation and hygiene promotion activities facilitated at the household level have been educating families and encouraging good hygiene practices across the community. Information about the importance of handwashing with soap and investments in safely managed sanitation, and the materials needed to construct a basic toilet and handwashing station and affordable local marketplace options available have ensured these efforts paid off.


Most recently, in May 2022, Beremana suco in Turiscai Administrative Post, Manufahi was declared ‘area liman mos’ (ALMO) - a ‘clean hands area’. This followed its achievement of open defecation free (ODF) status in April 2019, meaning that now, every person in Beremana suco has access to at least a shared latrine, with human faeces no longer disposed of in open spaces or bodies of water, and every household has their own handwashing facilities with soap.


Baltazar Dos Reis, a sub-village chief in Beremana suco, says he has noticed many benefits to his community since households have built their own toilet and handwashing facilities - health and wellbeing and human dignity among them.


"Toilets play an important part in human dignity," manu Baltazar explains. "If we just go to the bush, other people can peep on us easily. The situation has changed now that most of the households in the village have their own permanent toilets. Children are also using the toilets and flush with water compared to previously when they would defecate anywhere… Since they have had their toilets, most of them are free from sickness. Children can now play freely around their house with a clean environment." 


With support from the Australian Government under WaterAid's Water for Women project, Beyond inclusion: realising gender transformational change and sustainable wash systems since 2018, 16 sucos across Manufahi and Liquiçá municipalities in Timor-Leste have achieved ODF and ALMO status. So far, the project has directly benefitted 14,542 people in Liquiçá and Manufahi municipalities with improved water, sanitation and hygiene services and to influence social norms for greater gender equality.


Learn how Water for Women partners are uniting for universal hand hygiene across the Asia-Pacific in our latest learning brief on Handwashing Behaviour Change

A blue graphic with the words 'Just launched' and a thumbnail of the cover of a HWS learning Brief

Healthy communities start with healthy hands! This Global Handwashing Day - and every day - Water for Women joins the call for universal hand hygiene through inclusive and sustainable WASH services and systems. Without it, we can’t achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation for all - upon which all 17 goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development rely.

As we move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic - a time when heightened hand hygiene helped to protect us all - let's not lose the momentum. Now is the time to unite for universal hand hygiene, and to ensure sustainable WASH access for all.


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