Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Coastal region and small island papers 6

Developing alternative livelihoods 

In order to reduce unsustainable fishing practices (see Section 2.3.3), alternative incomes in new areas had to be found for fishers and others in the island communities. These communities are among the poorest in the region, and need to develop livelihoods that help alleviate poverty whilst also providing for environmental protection and management.

A workshop was held in May 1997 involving fishers, NGOs and LIPI, in order to establish a framework for sustainable development in the Seribu Islands. Pari Island had been identified previously as a suitable 'pilot' island for such an exercise. A major result of the workshop was the identification of four priority areas where change is needed:

This project has focused on one of these priorities: developing alternative employment opportunities in the Seribu Islands. To complement these activities, emphasis has also been placed on social empowerment in Kamal Muara through strengthening self-help groups. This chapter describes these two related activities.


Duck farming has been developed as an alternative income-generating occupation at Pari Island, and may act as a model for other small islands.

In March 1997 a feasibility study was conducted and project implementation started in 1998. At the start of the project, meetings were held with local authorities and families to assess the population of the island and explore issues relevant to the project, e.g. land ownership, freshwater availability, marketing of eggs and duck meat, the number of families to be involved in the project, and the existence of any constraints to the introduction of ducks. A training course on duck farming was held on the island in June 1998 and a manual ‘ Training course on duck farming techniques’ (Sinurat and Bernieri, 1998) was distributed. In this way families were introduced to basic duck farming methods: duck housing, rearing ducklings, feeding, hatching, disease prevention, and egg and meat production.

Duck farming:

Materials for building duck houses are limited and expensive in Pari Island. Bamboo, wooden blocks, and roofs were imported to make duck houses.

In July 1998, 290 five month old ducks, that had been quarantined for a week, were distributed among 55 families. Each family was expected to breed enough ducks so that they could hand on the number of ducks they originally received for distribution to another island. A similar project in Java had been made self-generating by requiring that for every duck given to a family, they must return one within a year. Egg production is approximately 280 eggs per duck per year, so even after breeding replacement ducks, each family would be expected to have more than 1,000 eggs per year to dispose of as they wished.

A technician from Balai Penelitian Temak Bogor stayed on Pari Island to monitor the duck farming and give advice where necessary. Once a month, other experts visited to collect data and make recommendations.

Some ducks started to lay eggs within a few days of their arrival on Pa ri Island. Egg production increased from July to December 1998, but fell in the first two months of 1999 due to a lack of food. Duck mortality was 5.5% in the first month of the project, and three ducks were lost. Mortality was also high in ducklings, 85% died. It was thought that insufficient care was taken of them and that the high quality feed they require in the first few weeks was lacking. Economically, it is more practical to bring in ducks rather than raise them. The carrying capacity on Pari Island is limited to about 400 ducks.



At the end of the project 35 participants (64%) provided ducks to be redistributed to their neighbours. The others promised ducks as soon as they had them. Everyone who took part in the project benefited in that they had an additional protein source and a cash crop: eggs. The project showed that while duck farming and egg production are feasible on the island, raising ducklings has little potential due to limited food resources. Production costs could be minimised and income maximised if duck farmers formed a co-operative to purchase ducklings and food and sell eggs.

seaweed after

Nearly all Pari Islanders are involved in seaweed farming. Women do the land-based work, such as attaching seaweed to ropes before 'planting' and later detaching the mature seaweed. Evaluation of the seaweed cultivation activities brought to light two main problems: post-harvest processing and marketing. Seaweed may or may not be desalted before drying. Desalting requires freshwater to soak the seaweed, usually for two days. As fresh water is in short supply on the island, the water is reused sometimes for as long as two weeks. Technical assistance is needed to improve post-harvest seaweed processing. The creation of a seaweed farmers co-operative would allow farmers to negotiate better prices for their products.  


In December 1998, Bina Swadaya, a local NGO, began a social empowerment project in Kamal Muara with UNESCO support. The main objective is to improve the quality of life for the people of Kamal Muara. The project has had two phases: initiation of community self-help groups (SHG); and strengthening of SHGs and development of small enterprises. Through these activities the concept of equal partnerships between men and women is promoted.

A participatory approach has been adopted involving the community directly in assessing local needs, identifying the most appropriate solutions and starting implementation.

5.2.1. Initiation of community self-help groups

At a preliminary meeting, attended by 16 people from Rukun Warga I (a unit of local administration) of Kamal Muara, in December 1998, the objectives and procedures of the social empowerment project and the benefits to be derived from self-help groups were discussed. There were already some self-help groups in the neighbourhood, e.g. green mussel farming group (Mapada Elo), salt fish craftsmen group, and others. Most groups were formed by financial subsidy or government development programmes and are not very active.

At a community meeting in January 1999, it was decided that existing self-help groups could not participate in the project. Groups based on the smallest unit of local administration, the Rukun Tetangga (RT), were formed in Nurhasanah (RT.004), Kamal Bahari (RT.009), Bina Usaha (RT.010) and Mandiri (RT.011). Membership is restricted to people living in these neighbourhoods. Members chose a management board (leader, secretary, treasurer) and a chairman from within their ranks and collected money to act as a reserve for group projects and loans to individuals.

In December 1998 a specialist in community development was available in Kamal Muara to give advice to the SHGs and other local community groups on group administration and the development of constructive activities.

Two courses on SHG management were held in Kamal Muara city hall (January and March 1999); there were 89 participants. Bina Swadaya co-ordinated the meetings and other NGOs were invited to participate. A course on household economics was held in March 1999. Its purpose was to clarify and emphasise the contribution that women make to running a household and the type of problems they face in budgeting time, money and energy.

A straw poll showed that the educational backgrounds of the SHG members is quite varied: 39% only attended elementary school, while 22% attended junior high, and 39% senior high school. In the first six months membership of the SHGs increased by 20% in Kamal Bahari and 31% in Mandiri. The other groups maintained their original size.

In April 1999, a grant of 1,500,000 rupiahs (US$200) was given to each SHG. Each month members are required to contribute 3,000 to 10,000 rupiahs. Members can borrow money from their SHG to help set up small businesses or in times of urgent family need. The Mandiri group requires 2% interest and 2% administration costs on loans. The other SHGs ask borrowers to pay interest on a voluntary basis. Table 5 shows the types of capital held by the SHGs.

Table 5.
Capital held by Kamal
Muara’ s self-help
groups, May 1999
  Initial contributions Monthly savings Voluntary savings Interest from loans    
Nurhasanah 267 000 340 000 70 000 46 000 1 500 000 2 223 000
Kamal Bahari 675 000  990 000 528 000 97 000 1 500 000 3 790 000
Mandiri 296 500 520 000 968 000 30 000 1 500 000 3 314 500
Bina Usaha 299 000 219 000 694 750 36 500 1 500 000 2 749 250
Total         6 000 000 12 076 750

Every three months the SHGs are evaluated in terms of organization and administrative capabilities and project implementation. The groups are appreciated by their members and other local people not only for their savings and loan functions but for their involvement in community action such as environmental clean-ups and literacy campaigns. The success of the groups has stimulated the formation of others.

5.2.2. Strengthening community self-help groups

Up until May 1999 the SHGs were not self-reliant, they still depended on external technical assistance. Their most valued activity was as a system for savings and loans. There was a need to focus on strengthening group organization and broadening their activities to include the development and assistance of small business enterprises.  

in economic
activities –
fish drying
in Kamal

MuaraFuture activities will concentrate on four main areas: planning, administration, network development and small business enterprises. SHG administrators need help to plan board and member meetings, business development and capitalisation. Group members need education on the democratic process. The NGO Bina Swadaya continues to guide the group boards in simple administration such as record keeping and financial organization.

On Independence Day in 1999 the SHGs organised a gala to introduce their work to the Kamal Muara community. Members of all four SHGs have made contact with the Community Self Reliance Partnership Agency from east Jakarta to discuss the development of a co-operative marketing system for salted fish, Kamal Muara's principal product. When members of the 'Delegation 8' from Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia visited Kamal Muara in August 1999, members of the SHGs were pleased to discuss their progress and share experiences in developing SHGs.

Many members of the SHGs have small, individual businesses producing or selling food, utensils, cigarettes and fish, and some members have obtained loans making expansion possible. However, as units, the SHGs have made little progress in business development. Some of the women in the Mandiri group produce crispy beans (rempeyek) and the Bina Usaha group is trying to produce Aceh's crispy and steamed sponge cake. Some effort has been made to find new marketing opportunities for SHG products.

A Social Safety Net (Jaring Pengaman Sosial) is being implemented in Kelurahan Kamal Muara, which will provide assistance to people in need who have no other resources to fall back on. The SHGs are participating in helping to organise the Communication Forum for this activity, this will help members better understand and improve their economic situation.

Members of the SHGs also participated in August 1999 in a workshop to map poverty in Kamal Muara. The map shows where the Social Safety Net is most needed. 

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