“We don’t care if they oppose us. We’ll dig while carrying swords if we have to!”
– Local Tinga-Tinga resident
Swords? Really? Yes, really. In order to understand the urgency of the preceding quote, you need to understand a bit about a place called Tinga-Tinga. It is a village in northwest Bali, far away from any tourist attractions or population centers. It is right along the sea and the land rises quickly into hills and mountains split by valleys. Most of the valleys only have a dry riverbed at the bottom, but in one of these valleys, there is a small river that flows. It is protected by a Balinese water conservation group and provides a lot of water for the rice fields closer to the ocean. Locals are not allowed to take any water from the river except for what they can carry in a bucket.
A small community of about 60 families in Tinga-Tinga is located right along one of these dry riverbeds. They have been struggling to obtain a reliable water source for as long as most of the people can remember. It is incredibly dry and hot. Poverty is widespread.
After a lot of unfulfilled promises from the government and other organizations, this small community finally thought ALB was going to provide the solution. People were excited. After an initial survey, we were excited too about the drastic difference we could accomplish for this community with some very simple solutions.
Our plan was simple: dig a well and allow gravity to pipe the water 1.5 kilometers to a small network of pipes and tanks for the community. An agreement to buy land for the well was signed, the village leaders gave their approval, and all was going very smoothly. Then the problems started…
The local water conservation group came in and opposed the community’s plan to dig a well. They made a “new” rule which made the planned well unfeasible. This group has been solely in charge of the water in Bali for over 900 years (you can read more about them by clicking here), so most people, government leaders, and communities are unwilling to mix it up with them.
The community was mad. Their dream of locally accessible water was falling apart again. They appealed to several local and regional leaders and councils, but they couldn’t get the decision reversed. They called Pak Nyoman, the water project supervisor for ALB, and wanted him to come and oversee the digging of the contested well. They were ready to head to the site and work with shovels in one hand and swords in the other. It was getting to be a serious situation.
Fortunately, we were able to convince the community to look for another solution, and just several days ago, a man from the community wanted to show us a small spring that his family no longer used. He emphasized how small it was, so we weren’t too hopeful that it would be adequate for over 300 people. It was a long, hot walk along a dry riverbed and then into a narrow gully. Then there it was, water!
Further testing is needed, but it appears that this “small spring” is actually several separate springs and could be more than adequate to provide for the needs of the entire community.
So everyone is excited again! The work starts next week…