Nusa Tenggara Timur cross-visit 

The impacts of uncontrolled burning on the harsh dry landscape near Lukuwinggir village in East Sumba

Community group members and cross-visit participants at the agroforestry demonstration plot in Doromeli village, Ngada, Flores

A field visit in late September to Nusa Tenggara Timur province of eastern Indonesia formed the latest stage in Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) land management project as part of the AusAID Public Sector Linkages program.

The journey covered three of eastern Indonesia’s major islands over eight days where participants were able to see rural development activities in action.

Participants on the visit included Johanna Karam and Rohan Fisher from CDU, provincial and district government members and non-government organisation (NGO) representatives from Ngada in Flores; Soe in West Timor and Waingapu in East Sumba.

Participants visited community groups in Flores and Sumba working on agro forestry projects using fire management as a practical way of protecting these valuable assets. These sites began as a joint project between the Australian government, local Indonesian government and NGO's and have been successfully expanded and used as demonstration sites for surrounding communities. Local NGOs are included in these land management programs as they provide a vital link to rural communities.

These community groups were proactively using fire control as a means to improve their own livelihoods. One community particularly known for its out-of-control burning had even gone to the unique lengths of declaring a village law, including sanctions for anyone caught lighting a fire that went on to damage someone else’s property.

In West Timor participants had the chance to see on-going community-based cattle husbandry and irrigation projects. This led to discussions among participants about how land management practices including fire control, could benefit local communities involved in these projects.

The field trip was an opportunity for government and NGO staff and local villagers to share experiences in rural development activities at each site. Participants and community members discussed the strengths and weaknesses of different strategies and talked about opportunities for future cooperation.

Over the past decade CDU has built up a close working relationship with BAPPEDA, Indonesia’s regional body for planning and development. Most recently the University has been supporting the government by providing technical training on the use of Global Information Systems (GIS) as a planning and management tool. Mapping of natural resources and land-use is seen as a vital tool for government departments to be able to develop appropriate district planning.

A good time was had by all and the visit also presented an opportunity for everyone involved to get to know each other a bit more, paving the way for stronger relationships and cooperation into the future.

By Johanna Karam
For further information contact Bronwyn Myers or
Linda Cuttriss, Coordinator Community Engagement, 08 8946 6336