E-Club member Judy Chernaud's work to provide clean drinking water in Timor Leste highlighted in the June issue of Rotary Down Under Magazine!
Water is Life  - from Rotary Down Under Magazine: http://rotarydownunder.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Water-1.pdf
Rotarian Judy Charnaud has been working in the enclave of Oecusse, Timor-Leste, since 2001. Judy set up non-government organisation GREEN TL over a decade ago, with well-known and respected local leader Luis Armando coming on board as director. Judy’s current project, Sustainable Villages, is registered with Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS), and supported by several Sydney Rotary clubs, including Brookvale, Epping, Eastwood-Gladesville and the e-Club of Greater Sydney, of which Judy is a member.
Judy and Luis work closely with villagers to assess their community and lifestyle and how it might be improved. Villagers are also educated on the impact of environmental degradation, a big problem in the region, and its impact upon their livelihoods. Together, Judy, Luis and the community come together to vision a future in which the village is sustainable, healthy and prosperous, with children having a positive outlook to the future. Villagers design site-specific plans and actions to make this a reality, with ongoing work towards their goals supported by GREEN TL.
Lack of clean drinking water presents itself as a continuous problem in villages, leading to constant diarrhoea, ill health, malnutrition and one of the highest childhood morbidity rates in the world. Connected to the lack of a reliable water supply is the deficiency of good quality food, leading to hunger and malnutrition. The World Health Organisation ranks Timor-Leste the nation with the third largest percentage of stunted growth in children under five internationally, better only than Afghanistan and Yemen.
The result is poor educational standards and lethargy, as well as long-term health problems. Water issues are also affected by deforestation in catchments due to unsustainable agricultural practices. This leads to severe erosion, landslides and the lowering of the water table. Judy and GREEN TL have rehabilitated wells, provided household bio-sand filtration units and supplied over 4000 food and timber tree seedlings for replanting on hillsides and riverbanks. Once established, coconut, mango and banana trees will also provide food. Mahogany, teak and trambesi trees will eventually become an income source when sustainably harvested on maturation. “Our water looks better, tastes better and our children are not as sick. We no longer have to constantly take them to the clinic, which is a long distance from our village,” said one grateful villager.
When the local government made electricity available to some of the outlying regions in Oecusse, pumps and piping were provided to irrigate community vegetable gardens in the villages of Bocosse and Passabe. “The smiles on the faces of the children when taps were turned on for the first time was something to see,” Judy said. “Better still, the gardens are flourishing and providing fresh food for local families. In time, they will also provide much-needed income as excess vegetables can be sold in the local market. ”Rotarians from supporting Australian Rotary clubs have visited Timor-Leste to see the transformation in communities supported by the Sustainable Villages project firsthand.
The work of Judy and GREEN TL continues across multiple villages, to provide as many people in Timor-Leste with clean water and reliable food sources as possible.