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The Belantara Foundation's Role in Establishing Partnerships with Village-Owned Enterprises (BUMDes)

Villages directly have an important role in the economic sector of society. At present, the government is intensifying the Village-Fund and Village-Owned Enterprises (BUMDes) programs. BUMDes is a social capital institution to strengthen economic development efforts and is expected to be a solution for rural development.

A webinar held by the Indonesian Resource Development Institute (IRDI) on Monday, March 23, 2020, through, had a discussion with the topic of The development of BUMDes as a key component in village economic growth, with guest speakers Budi Kristanto Ph.D. from Lambung Mangkurat University; the Panggungharjo Village Chief, Wahyudi Anggoro Hadi; and the Belantara Foundation Executive Director, Dr. Sri Mariati. 

As an Indonesian non-profit organization working to protect Indonesia's landscape with sustainable programs, the Belantara Foundation also conducts conservation, reforestation, and sustainable community development. In the Foundation's community development program, we establish partnerships with BUMDes within the scope of our work area.

The Belantara Foundation currently has worksites spread across ten areas in five provinces in Sumatra and Kalimantan. One of the worksite that establishes partnership with the BUMDes is in the Berbak-Sembilang Biosphere Reserve, precisely in Sungsang Village, Banyuasin II District, Banyuasin Regency, South Sumatra.

The Berbak Sembilang Biosphere Reserve area possess ecotourism potentials, such as river tourism through the beautiful mangrove forests, and stunning bird migration and wildlife observation. With its ecotourism potential, the Berbak Sembilang Biosphere Reserve would be able to help the development of the communities' welfare and change its socio-cultural view and commitment to protect and preserve conservation areas.

One of the Belantara Foundation's main program is the Tourism Village Program (Desa Wisata). In the Berbak Sembilang Biosphere Reserve area, Villages implementing the Tourism Village Program include  Sungsang I Village, Sungsang II Village, Sungsang III Village, Sungsang IV Village, and Marga Sungsang Village. Togther, these five villages are grouped into one program area called the Sungsang Tourism Village. 

In the course of developing the Sungsang Tourism Village, which began in 2017, the Belantara Foundation faced significant challenges. In our initial study, the challenges include the availability of clean water and drinking water, as well as poor sanitation and hygiene practices. Therefore, from 2018 to 2019, the Belantara Foundation made several efforts to assist and strengthen community institutions directly. One concrete step taken as an initial approach was to facilitate the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) program and immediately develop the pilot project for WASH infrastructure development in Sungsang IV Village, such as creating bio septic tanks, building waste banks and building clean water facilities. 

In addition to the community empowerment program, the Belantara Foundation has also established a partnership with the BUMDes in Sungsang IV Village to jointly manage the Belantara Foundation Tour Boat. The Belantara Foundation helps in the preparation of human resources by providing intensive training in boat management and management to BUMDes. As a result, the BUMDes now has one boat captain, three crew members, and a tour guide from the tourism awareness group who is an active youth from the village.

The sustainability and the consistency of a program to continue to run are the main focus of the Belantara Foundation. Various challenges and obstacles in implementing programs are a necessity that must be faced with effective and target-oriented solutions. Continuing to promote ecotourism, developing WASH programs and infrastructure, and building partnerships with other organizations, companies, and potential donors is a continuity as well as a challenge for us to be able to continue to contribute to help communities and environmental conservation.

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