From the Community Land Protection Initiative Blog series 2/6
Warungbanten, a farming community south of Mount Halimun, Indonesia is not at peace. Mining activity in the area has been bringing nothing but bad news, yet however, we are supporting communities to develop tools to protect their land.
Recently, we joined the Community Land Protection Co-Learning Initiative, supported by ILC and coordinated by Namati and IIED, where we learned new strategies to protect community land rights. As explained in a previous blog, the Initiative encouraged us to apply the skills we have learned to our communities, and therefore we decided to support Warungbanten village.
Warungbanten villagers viewed their land as a peaceful place, where people live in harmony with nature in exchange for food and health. Traditional wisdom helps to manage every natural resource; from rice fields to streams and forests.
A mining problem
But this view began to change when Aneka Tambang company (PT. ANTAM) introduced gold mining around the Cikotok area in 1936. Though the activity was ceased in 1985, mining would change the way people viewed land forever.
Recently, another mining company, PT. Cipta Usaha Sejati (CUS) arrived with new ambitions to scale up profits. While at the same time, some local gold-digger also take this as an opportunity to enhance their wealth. “Previously, at the peak of the gold-boom era, we afford to buy a new car from the profit gained in a week,” said a local gold-digger.
The arrival of miners in the premise resulting two things: land conversion and land conflicts.
As seen in many mining areas, the environmental impact resulting from this activity is huge. First, the clean water system is heavily polluted.
“Not long ago, when our wells dried, I used water from flowing streams to bath my children. After a week, my son developed rashes that have not healed up until now. I assume the water has been polluted,” said Susi, a local mother. Apart from water, village sacred grounds were decimated. Mining business is not sensitive to traditions, and most of their activities abuse the local traditions.
Another issue emerging is land grabbing. Rice fields around mining locations were grabbed as miners lured young people to sell their family lands for little costs. Minah, a father and a resident of Warungbanten is one of the impacted society. Plant owners fooled his cousin to sell their family land for a very low price.
Mapping to protect community land
As our initiative to support the locals there, we started a participatory mapping activity which involved everyone in the community, including women. Our mapping exercise revealed that the area of Warungbanten is consisted of 776,8 Ha farm area, 253.8 Ha bushes, 224.4 Ha rice fields, 17.8 Ha settlement, 7.3 Ha sacred forest, 2.8 Ha ponds, 1.4 Ha graveyards, and 0.3 Ha mining fields. The area also covers 21 streams and 30 springs.
After the exercise, the community of Warungbanten agreed to formulate development protection plans for natural resources and sociocultural potencies in the area.
In order to enhance the control over the natural resources, the community of Warungbanten also drafted a local written policy, which regulates how the locals and the non-locals use the land, and also as a way to manage about the land use conversion. The policy touches on the sacred forest, water sources, farming and rice fields. It also provides rules about gold-mining company permits, domestic, and industrial wastes.
The mapping exercise has been established in the past, but however, we created something different this time. The techniques we learned from the Initiative strengthened our method of mapping. We did not only focus on the maps, but the stories of people particularly to ensure women’s voices and how mapping can help them to protect their territories through written regulation.
THE COMMUNITY LAND PROTECTION INITIATIVE IS EQUIPPING ILC MEMBERS WITH THE PRACTICAL SKILLS TO SUPPORT COMMUNITIES TO DOCUMENT AND PROTECT THEIR INDIGENOUS AND CUSTOMARY LANDS.
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