Networking for a cleaner, healthier environment
Harum Sekartaji and Fergus Jensen
The community in Bener subdistrict, Yogyakarta, has been conducting and promoting environmentally friendly activities since 2007, with Atik Soekarno and Novi Ariani as the main motivators.
The community manages household waste through a garbage bank, and distributes information to local residents on sorting waste, making fertilizer from organic waste, creating handicrafts from plastic waste and tending to organic vegetable farms on marginal land.
The integrated training residents have been receiving for the past four years led to the formation of a 27-member garbage-management and garbage-bank group called Resik Agawe Sehat (cleanliness for health). The group distributes information on its activities to the entire subdistrict. Residents outside their area are also allowed to dispose of inorganic waste at the garbage shed in Bener.
”However, we are experiencing constraints in coordination and management,” Novi says. “Until now we have only been collecting funds independently. So there has become a real need for a cooperative. A cooperative would help coordinate the garbage banks in several subdistricts in Yogyakarta so we could network with other communities to improve our garbage management system, and increase our income from it.”
Hearing the passion and vision of Novi and her group, Albertus Aryanto Nugroho, a facilitator from the Environmental Development Business Group, which has formed a partnership with the Yogyakarta administration, saw a possibility to connect the Bener community with two other communities so that they could learn from each other. Albertus spent one year working to help the Prawirodirjan and Pringgokusuman communities, based on the bank of a river, to develop a household waste-management system. However, the system did not develop as well as that of the Bener community. The goal to develop businesses in the field of integrated household waste management in several Yogyakarta communities has brought these communities through the AGF-BC Community Entrepreneurs Challenge 2011 sponsored by the British Council.
”A network filled with a community of activists can be more effective in directly transferring management skills and experience so as to increase the income from garbage management in each neighborhood,” Albert says. The two communities plan to learn about environmentally friendly activities from the Bener community and develop the financial value of these activities. The community in Bener, meanwhile, will also receive a supply of inorganic waste from other neighborhoods to support its handicraft businesses.
Kendaryanto, a neighborhood chief in Prawirodirjan, says his community has started up an initiative to farm on small plots of vacant land. Vegetables such as chili, eggplant, Chinese cabbage and spinach are planted in pots next to the narrow alleyways and in resident’s front yards, using organic fertilizers produced from the garbage bank. “In future, I want residents to be able to provide their own vegetables, and even sell them to other areas around the neighborhood,” Kendaryanto says.
“However, plans to form a business group are facing constraints from the guidance side. We do not really understand management and business. So, an example from a successful community could be highly useful,” he adds.
”We distributed information on garbage management and organic fertilizer production to 300 households through gatherings, arisan [social gatherings for lottery], Independence Day celebrations and other social activities,” Prawirodirjan neighborhood chief Agus Supriyanto says.
“Besides waste management, the community here will receive guidance on the use and management of potable water,” he adds.
In the Pringgokusuman subdistrict, Patricia, the dynamo behind of the local inorganic garbage management movement, says she wants the community to rise up and feel motivated in managing garbage. “Since 2008, we have been connected with Novi from Bener and have received training on how to create various handicrafts from garbage. I hope that this guidance continues until we are independent enough to manage the waste from residents in an integrated way.”
Danang Soebagjono, the Local Income Development chief at the Yogyakara administration, says the communities’ ideas received support from the administration. “If this works, I am optimistic that over the next five years the same model can be replicated in 45 other subdistricts across Yogyakarta, so we can create a clean, healthy and comfortable city, which provides additional income for the community.”
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