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 VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs