Fellow Since 1998
Yayasan Rona Alam
This profile was prepared when Agus Gunarto was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Agus Gunarto has created and implemented a very practical idea: that appropriate waste water treatment can be based on household sewerage units that are financed, constructed, and managed by the same communities that benefit from the systems. In Indonesia, this is a new way of thinking about sewage management. Unlike large public projects, Agus's smaller scale treatment plants are affordable by the poor people whom they service. Before the creation of these plants, these communities often simply used open drains, shallow septic tanks, and rivers for the disposal of contaminated water. These practices contributed to high rates of disease.The treatment plants benefit the communities in many ways. In addition to clean water, they also provide fertilizer for local farmers and catfish that can be sold by the community to help offset the maintenance costs of the plant. After developing a very successful pilot project in Malang, East Java, Agus is now attempting to spread his small-scale wastewater treatment plants to other areas of Indonesia.