On January 26, 2016, Ono City and Japan Committee for UNICEF held a joint press conference at UNICEF House in Shinagawa, Tokyo, and announced their partnership to offer a greatest opportunity for making a difference in lives of children in Timor Leste.
In partnership with Japan Committee for UNICEF Ono City, actively promoting its campaign, the “Carrying Water Project”, has decided to provide financial support for UNICEF’s Water and Sanitation Programs in Timor Leste, the country that won its restoration of independence in 2002.
The event attracted a broader range of media from newspapers, magazines, webs to TVs.
The first presenter was Mr. Okada, Mayor of Ono. The mayor revealed the factors behind the decision to establish the partnership between Ono and the Japan Committee for UNICEF
“As is well known, Ono is famous for its abundance of natural clean water. Water has been part of our lives. Water has made Ono unique. Water has cultivated a sense of love and gratitude for water. And this common sentiment among citizens led to the creation of the Carrying Water Project(CWP). Taking pride in its tradition of water, the CWP partly takes a role in reaching out for people in developing countries without access to improved water sources, and this is very much about literally “carrying water” to the world.
“The first target country is Timor Leste. The city will conduct fundraising activities in various events, and provide financial support for UNICEF through Japan Committee for UNICEF to implement the project for building improved water systems in the most disadvantaged communities in Timor Leste.”
Under the partnership, Ono will provide funds to UNICEF for three consecutive years (2017-2019), so that UNICEF will be able to carry through the mission with successes. The partnership of its kind is unprecedented in a way that a local government supports a particular UNICEF’s program in a particular country.
Now let us take a look at Timor Leste’s overview. Timor Leste is the second youngest country in the world. Nearly half of its estimated 1.2 million people are 0 to 18 years of age. About 70 per cent of the population live in rural areas. With its restoration of independence in 2002, Timor Leste was in a state of ruins with tattered infrastructure and ceased economy. The country has faced numerous political, security and development upheavals since then, and particularly the lack of safe water has been a serious problem.
Due to limited access to water facilities, children’s health has been severely affected. The impact of low access to water facilities can be clearly seen in the health and nutrition status of children. UNICEF has been supporting the central and local governments in Timor Leste in installing community water systems, namely “gravity-fed water systems (GFS) for several years. GFS utilizes the natural force of elevation difference between water sources in mountain areas and the villages and hence water runs without any external source of energy.
With Ono’s financial support, UNICEF aims to build six GFSs in six schools and their neighboring communities in Ermera and Covalima districts, ensuring that 15,000 school children and 1,800 neighboring villagers will have access to safe and sustainable water supply from GFS by December 2019. UNICEF will also facilitate the establishment of Water System Management Group in each location which in turn will take ownership of community water systems for effective, sustainable operation and maintenance.
When people have access to safe drinking water, their lives improve enormously, and the risk of chronic malnutrition, anemia and diarrhea in children is reduced significantly.
Imagine children’s smiles if they no longer suffer from diarrhea or other waterborne disease. Imagine children’s smiles if they are being liberated from the daily journey to fetch water. Imagine how much people's living standard will get enhanced if using clean water for wash your body, doing laundry, cooking and even growing your own vegetables. Access to improved water sources has a positive impact on the lives of people, and their quality of lives will be improved dramatically
Representing Japan Committee for UNICEF, its Chairperson, Ryoko Akamatsu, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Ono for its generosity to support UNICEF.
“Ono’s commitment has a direct link to improving the lives of children and their families in Timor Leste.” Ms. Akamatsu emphasized.
Mr. Evangelino Gomes, Charge d’Affaires ad interim of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste , extended a huge appreciation to Ono and to the Japan Committee for UNICEF.
“The Japan Committee for UNICEF and other international agencies programs in Timor Leste are very crucial and important for our nation….”
“Through your kind assistance and support in the rehabilitation of the Water and Sanitation program in Timor Leste, it’s significant to improve the quality of life of our people and our children in my country. It is a vision and it is a value that we all share and believe together we will achieve it someday.”
The cooperation agreement was signed by Mayor Okada and Ms. Akamatsutsu respectively, officially putting the partnership into effect.
All the concerned parties being lined up, the photo session showcased the strong partnership and its commitment for the children in Timor Leste.
All is set, and it is clear that our collective action will promote the lives and rights of children in Timor Leste.
As part of CWA activities, “Echizen Ono Winter Story” was held in Ono on the 6th and the7th February 2016, offering an opportunity to raise awareness among its citizens about the most disadvantaged people on the globe. Coffees from Timor Leste brewed with Ono water was served for free to estimated 1,000 visitors during 2days- event. Enjoying a fresh cup of Timor coffee, each one felt togetherness with Timor Leste. Donation gathered in two days amounted to ¥81,792, and it will be utilized for the UNICEF’s Water Projects in Timor Leste in near future.
The city will conduct fundraising at the “Echizen Ono Meisui Marathon” in May, and donations for Timor Leste will be accepted at the venue.