Most areas in Bali are still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Solutions to this challenging situation need to be sought together through practical support from various parties. As one of the main supports in people’s livelihoods, the agricultural sector is the primary support for the needs of the tourism industry, hotels, restaurants, and so on.
Yehembang Kauh Village is one of those affected. Most of the residents work as farmers. The intensity of reporting on COVID-19 in the mass media is less intense than it used to be. The trend is slowly decreasing, although it has increased occasionally. But there is one certainty: the economic conditions have yet to be as they were then; we don’t recognize what a pandemic means. Agricultural commodities plummeted due to excess supply.
IDEP is collaborating with the Yehembang Kauh Village Government in implementing the Post-Pandemic Recovery Program for COVID-19 through the Permaculture Approach for Sustainable Livelihoods. This program will contain a set of concrete actions to improve community skills and knowledge, especially in gardening and farming. Dissemination of this matter, of course, must be carried out first.
Conditions of socialization activities
On Tuesday, 7 February 2023 some of us rushed to the village, and others were already at the location the day before. That night, we discussed again the good things this village has, of course, those that can be managed, developed, and functioned independently in the future. This is a loose season, with moderate and persistent rains in western Bali in Negara.
The next day at 07.55 WITA at the Yehembang Kauh Village Worker’s Office. Together with other field partners, we came to prepare the socialization of the program. We invite all relevant policy stakeholders, institutions, and community groups to participate in the socialization of this program, to get input or suggestions as well as support in its implementation.
This socialization activity was opened by Ida Bagus Susrama, a representative from the village office and the host, at 09.15 WITA. The participants who came were 55 people from 29 parties invited, including the Head of Yehembang Kauh Village, representatives of the Mendoyo Sub-district Head, official institutions, and several village community groups, including Pokdarwis and Bhabinkamtibmas.
I Komang Darmawan, as Head of Yehembang Kauh Village Head, said that the collaboration that was repeatedly conveyed in this activity was familiar. The relationship between the local village government and IDEP has been established since 2012. He stated, “Even so far, the village government has been greatly assisted by IDEP in community empowerment and environmental conservation efforts.”
One of the participants asked about the sustainability of this program
It is hoped that IDEP’s activities in the village will continue to integrate with village programs. The village headman also wants community and environmental empowerment programs which still need to be initiated by the village government, to be carried out during the program. “In the future, there will be a possibility that village-owned funds can be used to support IDEP activities that are aligned with village programs,” he continued.
Arya Astika, as the representative of the Mendoyo subdistrict head, also conveyed the same thing. He hopes that IDEP’s program can be integrated with village programs.
“Apart from that, we hope that in the post-pandemic recovery of COVID-19, maybe it will be related to the environment, especially. What is clear is that the activities of the Forest Farmers Group (KTH), which have been carried out in Yehembang Kauh Village, are already ongoing. So community groups can participate in this activity,” he said.
IDEP’s involvement in Yehembang Kauh Village is a long-term one. The 2023 program is a continuation of programs in previous years, in which IDEP has long-established partnerships with village governments regarding community empowerment and environmental conservation.
Putu Suryawan, as our Program Coordinator, revealed that IDEP would further provide training to increase community capacity this year. Even in 2023, the activities will be broader. Some are yard garden, post-harvest processing, and business management training.
“Among them are agroforestry training, endemic tree nurseries, protected animal breeding, waste management training, disaster preparedness training, and improving the educational function of the Learning Forest,” he explained in more detail.
Fajar Kurniawan, as our Program Manager, added it. He said that people’s economic conditions had not recovered to normal, even though the COVID-19 pandemic could be declared to have passed. Yields from farmers have yet to be optimally absorbed by the market like before the pandemic, resulting in reduced income for farmers.
“So, in this year’s program, there will be yard garden training. In addition, there will also be training on post-harvest food product processing and business management. Yard garden training (accompanied by mentoring and assistance with seeds & garden tools) is expected to support family food security in Yehembang Kauh Village, especially economically disadvantaged families,” he concluded before the session changed.
Sharing stories and experiences with the local community
At least three crucial things in the discussion started at 09.45 WITA. First, several community group representatives who attended socialization meetings tended to expect short solutions to their problems, such as accurate market share targets for post-harvest sales, and the assistance that IDEP provided later was expected to be carried out on an ongoing basis without assistance.
Second, aspirations come from the closest problems of specific institutions or community groups—for example, the debate over the causes of landslides. Representatives from the Forestry and Environment Service said that one of the main reasons for this was only sometimes in managing forests and their surroundings. However, high rainfall also needs attention.
Third, efforts to build better coordination and more informative communication between policy stakeholders. A Community and Village Empowerment Office representative stated that he did not know that in Yehembang Kauh Village, there had been a yard garden program (KPK) for residents.
These three things became an excellent discussion at our meeting with all the participants that afternoon. It could also be a long conversation if we forgot about time constraints that day. This outreach is still in its infancy and should be carried out as well as possible with the community. Some of the participants, along with our staff, dispersed. We are talking and eating together. There are those who are still discussing the contents of the discussion earlier, there are also those who are talking about things outside of that.
Article & Photo: Nicolaus Sulistyo © IDEP Foundation