The Jakarta Post
The government will provide 500 houses for Jambi's nomadic Anak Dalam tribe, also known as Orang Rimba, as permanent shelters on a 1,000-hectare plot of land outside of forest areas.
Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said on Sunday that the ministry planned to secure the land by the end of this year and would work together with the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry regarding the infrastructure.
'I have met with four tumenggung [clan leaders] and they said that they were ready to move to houses. So, I asked the regent to determine the location by December at least,' Khofifah said as quoted by Antara news agency.
The plan to provide houses for tribe members follows President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's visit to observe efforts to handle the ongoing haze disaster. He also visited the Anak Dalam community, currently living in tents on a plantation in Bukit Suban village, Sarolangun regency, Jambi, last Friday.
The tribe traditionally lives in the forests of Sumatra, but has been gradually pushed out by the expansion of oil palm plantations.
During the visit, Jokowi asked the nomadic people whether they wanted to move to houses and no longer be nomadic.
The President said that they agreed as long as the houses were not located too close to other locals and they could own the land. He told the tribe that the central government would make the necessary arrangements for their accommodation.
Moreover, the President promised to provide electricity and clean water as well as stable incomes for the indigenous people.
However, the Indigenous People's Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) said that the government's plan to provide such houses was the wrong solution for the Anak Dalam tribe, citing that their home was the forest itself.
'It's all about the way of life. They don't need any houses. They need the forest,' AMAN secretary-general Abdon Nababan said on Sunday.
Abdon added the tribe would not reject the President's offer, but that the houses would only be temporary shelters. 'They will be back to the forest anyhow. Because that's their home,' he said.
The offer, he said, would repeat the government's mistake in March of offering a designated customary village for the group in response to tribe members suffering from starvation and illness.
At that time, Khofifah met with several clan leaders and members during a visit to Bukit Duabelas National Park (TNBD) in Batanghari regency and offered them the chance to inhabit a customary village, citing Law No. 6/2014 on customary villages.
However, the community rejected the offer, saying that they needed land to farm and feed their children, not houses.
AMAN recommended that the government focus more on conserving the national park in Batanghari Regency, supporting flora and fauna but also the Anak Dalam.
'Because the community is part of the park,' Abdon said.
Instead of working on the infrastructure for the indigenous people, he said, it was better for the government to immediately realize the establishment of a task force on indigenous people, which would protect the rights of such people and preserve their customs.
'A task force could do better research on what indigenous people really need, than what Jakartans can,' Abdon said. (foy)
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