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NEWS UPDATES 15 July 2010

New economic opportunities Sumatra village

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The housewives have started their own poultry farm to support their family income.

Like 150 other housewives in the rural village in Pesisir Selatan, West Sumatra, Madam Asritati was given two dozen ducks to rear in her backyard. And the efforts are paying off, according to Channel News Asia.

The housewives are now selling the eggs to supplement the incomes of their rubber tapper husbands.

Madam Asritati said: "It can supplement the family up the children's expenditure."

It is not just the eggs that are making the villagers smile a little wider.

For years, a contaminated river had been one of the water sources for this village.

Last year, local health authorities issued a high alert after the villagers came down with numerous water-borne diseases.

Now, filtered water flows freely into more than 600 homes to meet all their needs. And it has been keeping the doctors away.

Zulhermarita, a village resident, said: "We do not get sick since now we have clean water."

The water supply comes from a nearby hill. It is managed by a residents' committee which charges a minimal fee.

The water and livelihood projects are part of the initiatives funded by Mercy Relief - a Singapore humanitarian organisation.

It partnered a local NGO to reach out to rural communities in the region when not occupied with emergency and relief operations during natural disasters.

Hassan Ahmad, CEO, Mercy Relief, said: "The money collected from the water fees from the villagers will be placed in a central pool, where the villagers will now have access to loan facilities to repair their homes, to start up micro-enterprises on their own - such that it will help improve their lives"

It is something for these villagers to look forward to even as they live dangerously in a quake-prone area. More than 1,100 people were killed after a powerful earthquake hit West Sumatra last September.

With these projects, the mood among the villagers is more positive now. They are less sickly with the availability of cheap and clean water. And the poultry rearing has certainly empowered the women and helped with their family income.

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