Engaging Foreign Domestic Workers as Water Conservation Ambassadors
For the first time, Singapore’s national water agency PUB is collaborating with the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) to train foreign domestic workers (FDWs) to become ‘Water Conservation Ambassadors’ so that they can learn about good water conservation habits and promote them to their community and the families they work with.
PUB conducted two training sessions in October at the FAST Clubhouse located in Bukit Merah with 26 foreign domestic helpers. At these sessions, they learnt about Singapore’s water resources and simple water saving tips that they can practice at home.
Mr Yap Wai Kit from PUB’s 3P Network Department who led the training noted that FDWs play a key role in household’s water consumption.
“There are about 255,000 FDWs in Singapore and they do most of the household chores. By empowering the FDWs with knowledge on water conservation and helping them understand how water is a scarce resource in Singapore, they will be able to contribute greatly to household water savings and also bring the water conservation message closer to their community and the employers they serve”, he said.
FDWs at the water conservation ambassador training session conducted by PUB.
The trained ambassadors were excited to share their knowledge and spread water conservation message to their peers at the recent FDW Day event organised by FAST on 27 October at ITE College Central. This is an annual event to recognise the contributions of FDWs to Singapore and promote bonding between FDWs and employers.
The event, which has been running for 10 years, saw more than 10,000 domestic workers thronging the venue to enjoy their day-off with entertainment by artists from their homeland, games, freebies, photo booths and free meals. Meanwhile, the FDW water conservation ambassadors at the PUB booth were enthusiastically sharing water conservation tips with their fellow FDWs and recruiting more ambassadors to champion the water cause. On top of learning water saving tips, the participants at the booth also received a special Water Wally dish sponge for completing a survey on water conservation habits and posting their pictures at the booth on Facebook.
FDW water conservation ambassador pre-event briefing.
FDW water conservation ambassadors promoting water saving tips at the 10th FDW Day event.
FDW water conservation ambassadors at PUB’s outreach booth.
One of the ambassadors, Ms Mary Jasmine Cepeda, 49, from the Philippines, has been working in Singapore for 28 years. After attending the training by PUB, she shared what she has learnt with her British employer who was supportive and asked her to apply some of the water saving tips.
“My employer was very impressed with what I’ve learnt about Singapore’s water resources and I can even explain how water is reclaimed in Singapore. Now, my employer has agreed for me to change some of the household habits such as washing vegetables in a container instead of running water and switching from washing clothes daily to only twice a week on a full load to save water“, she said.
She shared that back home in the Philippines, her family relies on water from the wells and would not know how much they have used, leading to a lot of wastage.
Another ambassador, Ms Marfuah Hadi, 42, from Indonesia said that she decided to join the water conservation ambassador programme for a more productive use of her off-days. She has been working in Singapore for 13 years. She shared that most villages in Indonesia rely on well water and only have to pay for electricity to pump the water into a storage tank. Without having to pay for water, it is easy for her fellow countrymen to take it for granted.
“Most foreign domestic workers don’t know that Singapore is a water scarce country. We take it for granted that when we come here, we turn the tap and water flows freely. Most of the FDWs I meet say that their employer do not really care about saving water, but I tell them that we must care. Singapore gave me job so I also need to play my part to save its water,” she said.
Marfuah now consciously tries to save water by ensuring that she turns off the tap while she is washing dishes or bathing her employer’s baby and using half –flush where possible.
Moving forward, PUB plans to further its outreach to FDWs by conducting more ambassador training sessions and developing training materials to educate new incoming FDWs about water conservation.
By Nora Farhain, 3P Network Department