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

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid