Challenges in Improving Local Community Livelihood: A Case Study of Villages Surrounding Conservation Forest Areas in West Java, Indonesia

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 12:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Sulastri SARDJO, University of Indonesia, Indonesia
Currently Indonesian government has attempted handling environmental issues through environmental green agendas. This is indicated by environmentally sustainable policies such as geothermal energy development and conservation of protected forests. As this study indicates, communities living in surrounding forest area, particularly those are close to the geothermal energy operation area have experienced negative impacts.  For example, they are experiencing difficulties in assessing resources that were previously available to them who are mostly dependent on the forest.  The communities also have complained on the environmental impact of the geothermal energy operation, particularly to the availability of water supply.  As part of their reactions, local communities have organized protests, either directly or through civil society organizations.  In order to ensure the continuance efforts of conservation projects as well as geothermal energy operation, the (local) government and the company operating in the area developed social-economic programs to improve the local community livelihood.  In the one hand, those programs has stimulated local social and economic activities.  On the other hand it has created tensions among local people as well as frictions among civil society organizations themselves. Findings of this study have indicated that civil society organizations seemed to lose their primary orientation to improve the local community wellbeing as they themselves have struggled to balance between their own or group interests and the community needs.  In the context of conflicting interest between environment and development, this study describes dynamic relations among different parties involve in the effort of improving local people livelihood.  As each party has its own interests, this study focuses on challenges faced by different parties since the efforts require close cooperation between the CSO, community, company and the government at different levels.