The “Raising A Village” Program is an initiative with a holistic approach aimed at realizing the goals of Wadah Foundation. Through the said program, a concept of strategic independence is created. Though assuring the community’s food security is one of the goals of this program, it goes beyond that. It aims to serve as a melting pot of individuals and communities that are independent, empowered and dignified to produce agents of change for the community itself.
KABUNA AND MANLETEN AS PILOT COMMUNITIES
Two villages from the Belu Regency, NTT – Kabuna and Manleten, were chosen as pilot communities for the ‘Raising a Village’ Program due to the readiness of the human capital and natural resources available. The newly-formed community (ex East Timor) with its unique characteristics seemed perfect as a pilot project despite the existence of a myriad of challenges.
TRICKLE/DRIP SYSTEM AS AN ALTERNATIVE
The unforgiving heat and arid condition, in itself, served as a big challenge for the people in the community in developing their agricultural work. For this community, water is expensive and considered a luxury. Water supply for their daily needs is scarce enough so what more for agricultural purposes. Despite all these challenges, their drive to assure food security could not be hindered.
USED PLASTIC BOTTLES, VEGETABLES IN POLYBAGS
A simple innovation of water irrigation using “Trickle or Drip system” was introduced by Ibu Dian Luan (Head of RWD Belu), Ibu Fatimah Luan, Oktavina/Oka Ramos (Head of RWK Weliurai) and other friends from Belu back in 2017. It proved to be really effective then, that it became an alternative choice for use.
Now, with the implementation of the “Raising A Village” program, water irrigation remains to be a challenge that would surely demotivate those who are weak, lazy and pessimistic. This is where the “Trickle/Drip irrigation system” can be utilized and developed once again.
As the name suggests, the ‘trickle/drip irrigation’ makes use of water bottles punctured at the bottom with a sharp object like a needle, just enough to let water trickle down from the hole. The bottle is then tied securely to a pole placed near the plant and allowed to irrigate the plant as needed. The volume flow of the water can be adjusted accordingly by loosening or tightening the bottle cap.
REDUCING PLASTIC WASTE
This ‘trickle irrigation’ is a simple yet wise solution to combat the challenges presented by the dry soil and at the same time, it helps reduce plastic waste that contribute to the pollution.
Not only was this innovation utilized for irrigation but it also became a strategy to reduce plastic waste pollution. As stated by Ibu Dian, “One of our programs is reducing plastic waste. Reducing does not mean eliminating but creatively repurposing it. In addition, this innovation is directed to help farm in dry land as well as to break the mentality of the community: “since there is no water, we cannot farm.”
PLANTING OF PAPAYA AND CHILI, A COMMUNITY ACTIVITY
With the trickle/drip irrigation system in place, 120 seedlings of Californian papaya and red pepper have been planted via multi-cropping on a 1,100 m/sq land owned by Mr. Abito Ramos, Oka Ramos’ father with the help of the whole community through gotong royong.
Like most people who are accustomed to social assistance, especially from large NGOs, the Wadah-assisted community in Weilurai, Kabuna village, Belu, is also difficult to mobilize. But the friends of the Wadah warriors did not give up. They encouraged teachers, volunteers, parents of students, youth, etc. to take part in cultivating the land, and to take part in planting.
Everyone was given some Californian papaya seedlings to plant. Every person also had to collect used bottles to be used for the ‘drip system irrigation.’ Each row of plant bears the name of the person who planted it (marked with a sign card) thus, making that person responsible for caring for the said plant and making sure that the drip bottle is filled with water once or twice a day (depending on the size of the bottle).
EDUCATING THE YOUTH
This activity also aims to teach the youth not to be too obsessed with technology and the worldly life, where children think everything can be bought easily. This program also aims to help build character through creative and innovative ways by encouraging people to live peacefully with nature through recycling used items and repurposing them. This is where non-consumptive behavior is being nurtured.
Through this program, the community is being made aware that we are living in a world where there is strong interdependence. Everything we do has consequences and may affect others. Thus, if we are irresponsible, we are putting the burden on the larger ecosystem. Our society’s consumptive behavior and habit of littering, therefore, not only affect our lives in this moment but most especially it is a grave threat to the lives of the future generation.
ENCOURAGING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT In all of the activities being done, Wadah is working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: ’Sustainable Consumption and Production” (SDG #12), ‘Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss (SDG #15), as well as taking part and immediately taking action, however small, to combat climate change and its effects (SDG #13). All of this is done effectively through simple agricultural innovations like the drip/trickle irrigation system in dry and barren land. This is the role carried out by Wadah Foundation as an organization with Special Consultative Status in ECOSOC since 2016, which is taking part in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.