News / Africa

    Speedy Growth in Indonesia’s Bali Risks Damaging Island’s Allure

    Ferry boats cross Bali Strait to carry Indonesians to Ketapang port, East Java, from Gilimanuk port, West Bali, Indonesia (File Photo - August 27, 2011).
    Ferry boats cross Bali Strait to carry Indonesians to Ketapang port, East Java, from Gilimanuk port, West Bali, Indonesia (File Photo - August 27, 2011).
    Solenn Honorine

    Indonesia's scenic island Bali will be the setting for the East Asia summit in November, of which President Obama is expected to attend. The country’s premier tourist destination is seeking to capitalize on business tourism after a difficult decade marked by two terrorist attacks and the SARS and bird flu epidemics.

    Flora

    In Kendran village, in the center of Bali, everything is green. Delicate rice sprouts peek from terraced fields. Dense thickets of banana trees encroach the side of a road. Shaded gardens decorate the entrance of temples and houses. But despite its lush appearance, water in the village is in short supply.

    Made Ruta, one of Kendran’s rice farmers, explains that the public water distribution company PDAM owns two of the three water sources located on the village’s land. He says the local government demanded it prioritize the nearby tourist town of Ubud for water distribution. Thus, he says, for the past five years there has not been enough water during the dry season to properly irrigate all rice fields.

    Water crisis

    Environmentalist Wayan Gendo Suarna, who chairs the Bali chapter of the Indonesian NGO Walhi, warns that a water crisis looms.

    Wayan says that although consumption is highest in the South of the island, where the tourist facilities are located, there are no water resources there. Shortages now exist in the rural and mountainous North, closer to the water sources. He says local policies dictate that the tourism industry, which contributes most to the island’s economy, should come before the needs of rice farmers.

    Made Ruta, the Kendran farmer, says the situation is unfortunate.

    Nowadays, he says, there’s not much harmony left in the village. In the peak of the dry season farmers may creep at night into their neighbor’s fields to steal water. Because of this problem and the lure of better jobs in the tourist industry, many farmers are tempted to sell their land.

    Bali Fokus

    Bayu Susila, head of the environment NGO Bali Fokus, says that this is felt throughout Bali.

    “In my village, all young people now are working in the cities," said Bayu. "So only the old people, the old generation lives in the village. So when there is a ceremony they come back to the village for one, two or three days and then go back to the city where they can find a better life. So it’s affecting our way of life.”

    Bali’s Hindu culture and unique agrarian lifestyle is the island’s main tourist attraction. So Bayu warns that the erosion of the traditional way of life could have dire consequences.

    “As a Balinese, I don’t want new investors coming to Bali," said Bayu. "I suggest: please bring your capital elsewhere, to the other provinces, please develop there.The more capital you bring to Bali, the more people will come to Bali, and we’ll be buried there. Because once there is no local traditions, who will care?”

    Busy Bali

    Bali is a small island, about the size of the tiny U.S. state of Rhode Island. With more than three-and-a-half million residents and about two million tourists a year, officials say Bali is severely overcrowded.

    In southern Bali's busy streets, traffic jams choke the towns. Waste is so poorly managed that during the rainy season, when rivers swell, garbage dumped throughout the island end up layering the long, white sand beaches.

    Ngurah Wijaya, chairman of the Bali Tourism Board says there is not enough electricity, water and roads to accommodate the island’s successful industry.

    “Bali has nothing. The only work we can do here is tourism, so it has to continue," said Wijaya. "We’ve proposed to the government, and the government agreed, to have a moratorium on building new accommodation in Bali. The government should build again the infrastructure in Bali such as electricity, water, accessibility and garbage.

    Development

    But there is no indication the government will impose a moratorium any time soon. A huge conference center is scheduled to be built soon to accommodate a 2013 APEC summit. Several other big projects are scattered throughout the south of the island. A large Indonesian chain is building another resort on the luxurious compound of Nusa Dua on Geger Beach.

    At the base of a high pile of rubble that creeps onto the beach, an extended Balinese family is attending a ceremony. They all gather once every six months to worship the spirits of their ancestors, who they believe are represented by a holy rock that barely peeks from the high tide. Soon, access to this beach will be restricted to the hotel’s clients. But family members say they do not mind.

    They say that they are happy there is yet another resort to be built here. The more tourists the better, they say, as they bring cash and good jobs along with them. So, as long as the hotel management lets them hold their colorful ceremony every six months, as has already been agreed, they welcome the new resort with open arms.

    The successful tourism industry has made Bali one the richest provinces in Indonesia. Although few Balinese are willing to slow down the pace of development, there are some who worry that the growth may eventually overwhelm the natural beauty that drew people here in the first place.

    You May Like

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora