Water Crisis Hits Sembalun Due to Earthquake and Drought

The residents of the hamlet on the slope of Mount Rinjani rely on water assistance and water that they bought.

ACTNews, LOMBOK - The Humanity Water Tank parked on a parched field. It was all dusty, for it has been dry for a long time. The volunteers who got out of the car put their masks on their faces to protect themselves from the dust. Some of the local women ran towards the water tank truck carrying a bucket. Unlike the volunteers, they did not try to cover their faces from the dust that was flying towards them.

"Bring the water here. We have been deprived of water for a week. I haven’t taken a shower for a week," said a woman, half screaming. The volunteer who heard her chuckled, thinking that she was joking. The mother then replied, "It's true. Seriously, we are not joking."

The woman was Iin Farlina, a resident of Bawak Nao Lao Hamlet, Sajang Village, Sembalun Subdistrict, East Lombok. Iin has been buying water for several months because of the water crisis in his village. To buy a thousand liters of water, Iin must spend Rp 100,000.

"I use the water for washing and cooking. But, for a few days, there has been no water. Just look at that. My laundry has piled up in front of my house, I can't wash it yet. The water assistance from Global Zakat-ACT is enough for personal hygiene and cooking this week," Farlina said on Wednesday (8/14)

The initial magnitude 6.4 earthquake which shook Lombok in July 2018 buried the pipes that carried the water from the main spring. To make it worse, the long dry season has hit Lombok since March. The wells and streams from which they used to draw water have dried up completely.

Usually, when the rainy season arrives, residents of Bawak Nao Lao Hamlet have rain water reservoirs behind their homes. The water, said Iin, can be used even if it has been stored for days. Unfortunately, there has been no clean water in the reservoirs, only some puddles of water that turned green because of moss.

The drought has also badly affected Iin’s livelihood. The garlic that she grows at the back of her house needs a water tank for one week. If not, the land will simply dry up and suffer from crop failure.

"The land here has been dried up. But I still water my crop using the water that I buy. It’s quite difficult, I know, but if I don’t do it, what am I going to do for living? I better buy water to keep my crop growing," said Iin.

In contrast to Iin, another resident, Sanirih, preferred to let her rice fields dry out. The plants are now dead and there were no one working there. She preferred to use the water she received for personal hygiene and cooking.

"We have to irrigate the fields, but if we want to irrigate the fields, we have to wait for the rain to fall. Well, since there is no water, my fields have been abandoned. All of the fields here have dried out. There’s no crop that can live in this condition, "said Sanirih.

Having the solution to the water crisis problem, Sanirih did not expect much. She only hoped that the water could be easily accessible in Sembalun and the people's lives would return to normal.

"Hopefully, we can get clean water. The important thing for us right now is water. In the rainy season, we can get some water, but the dry season has lasted for three months, so there is no water at all, "said Sanirih.

The sun began to rise, shining on the dried rivers near the Bawak Nao Lao hamlet. Iin and Sanirih were right: there was no water left, only rocks, dust, and weed that filled the river. []