The EU supported a rooftop rainwater harvesting structure at Cribas Primary School which can store 100.000 liters of water sufficient to cover the school need for 1 year.
The Minister of Education, Ms. Dulce de Jesus Soares, said that ‘this is the first time such a structure was constructed in a school in Timor-Leste. It provides a practical solution to resolve the access to safe water for school children’. The Minister of Education vowed to replicate the design for the benefit of school children in other Sucos prone to drought. School children, representatives of the government, the European Union (EU) and FAO have gathered for the inauguration of the rooftop rainwater harvesting structure at Ensino Basico Central school in Cribas on 30 January 2020. School children and Cribas community offered a warm welcome to the invitees. Guests included the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), the Minister of Education, the Administrator of Manatuto Municipality, Cribas Chefe de Suco, the EU Ambassador and representatives of FAO Timor-Leste. The rooftop rainwater harvesting structure built at Cribas Primary school can store 100,000 liters of rainwater, which is sufficient to cover for the school need for an entire year, even in drought years. The project has changed the daily life for 738 children who also benefit from the national school feeding program.
The Chefe de Suco, Mr. Eurico Alves, explained that ‘Cribas is regularly affected by drought and the local population suffers from water shortage during the dry season, particularly school children. Out of 7 springs in Cribas, only 2 have water during the dry season. This causes much hardship for the local population’.
The Minister of Agriculture and Fishery, Mr. Joachim José Gusmao dos Reis Martins, expressed his gratitude to the European Union and the fruitful cooperation between their respective institutions. He explained that ‘the climate conditions in Timor-Leste is characterized by heavy monsoon rains, followed by a pronounced dry season. Many parts of the country experience up to 6 months a year without any rainfall, while during the rainy season, the water is lost to the ocean. With the support of the EU, FAO and MAF have now demonstrated that we can use existing infrastructures, such as the roof of our buildings and private houses, to effectively harvest water during the rainy season’.
The EU Ambassador, Mr. Andrew Jacobs, said that ‘the EU is very proud of the cooperation with the Government of Timor-Leste and FAO on this innovative project. The rainwater harvesting structure built in Cribas has the potential to be replicated in many other parts of the country’.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and the Municipality Administration in Manatuto with the support of the European Union and FAO, joined hands to promote drought risks management in the Municipality. Harvesting water during the rainy season, from November to March, can help alleviate the problem.
The initiative also highlighted the opportunities for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishery and the Ministry of Education to reinforce collaboration on home-grown school feeding. School feeding has the potential to provide a stable institutional market for local food produces grown by farmers.