MAGIC OF ROTARY: Touching the Lives of Poor Families in Central Java, Indonesia

Global Grant #1419866 - Land Reclamation toward Food Supply

Cilacap is a rural area with over 2,000 households in 12 villages, all of whose livelihoods are merely dependent on fishing. However, sedimentation caused the water area to change from ±6000 HCT with a depth of 15 meters, to only ±500 HCT with a depth of 2 meters. The mangrove trees planted around the water turned to weeds, turning the area into a wetland & then grassland. The wetland become breeding ground for mosquito which spread diseases such as malaria and dengue.

Because of the heavy sedimentation, the water in the river become very shallow and becomes suitable for farming with appropriate canal system. Therefore, the traditional fisherman would prefer to become farmers with an assurance of regular income.

The monthly income of the workers/fishermen ranged from US$50 to US$80. Given this meager income, parents have difficulty sending their children to school, also relying on small & free government clinics for their medical needs.

Rotarians in RC Cilacap identified opportunities on how to improve the income of the people. A Rotarian with engineering knowledge thought of building a canal to connect the vast area to the river & at the same time, manage the flow of water to prevent flooding & to properly irrigate the entire location. The Rotarians now needed US$85,000 to purchase tools & equipment to build up canals.

When DG Eva Kurniaty visited the Rotary Club of Cilacap in 2013, she was presented with the challenges & opportunity of the people in the community. She initiated actions to start the first Global Grant, “Land Reclamation toward Food Supply” & secured funds from TRF. With the support of clubs from Hong Kong, the Philippines & Australia, the livelihood program was approved.

In 2014, the people in Pelindukan Village of Cilacap & Rotary built the canal system, collaborating with the local government, who built the irrigation system & YSBS Foundation, which contributed irrigation pumps.

The 1st Global Grant, GG#1419866, consisted of building 6 canals and 6 floodgates:

1 canal = 40-50 hectares of productive land
6 canals built x 40-50 hectares = 250 hectares of productive land
1 hectare produced 5.6 tons of paddy (1 ton = US$400)
250 hectares produced 1,400 tons of paddy
1,400 tons x US$400 = US$560,000/harvest (two harvests a year)
As the canals and floodgates continuously managed the flow of water & sediments, the area of productive land steadily increases as time goes by. What was initially 250 hectares of productive land will slowly turn into 500-700 hectares of productive land in total. As of June 2016, 500 hectares of productive land has been produced, earning US$1,120,000/ harvest.

With this regular income, the families in Cilacap were finally able to put their children through school and meet their medical requirements. This Global Grant is a high-impact project that covers all of Rotary’s “6 Areas of Focus” & promotes Rotary’s public image in remotes areas.

It turned the swamp and unproductive land into productive rice fields, improving the local economy and also promotes peace as families are now concentrating on farming & bringing income to their families.

What is the next step? The 2nd Global Grant will focus on the next village, Ciberem, Cilacap, in the exact same way as the 1st one, and is supported by Korea & Malaysia. It is currently in the process of gaining approval from Rotary International. PDG Eva keen on helping all 12 villages in this way through more Global Grant projects.