Improving waste management and environmental quality through education

Have you ever noticed the sign for ‘Hotel Santai’ and the Fair Trade Outlet when driving down Jl. D. Tamblingan, the main road adjacent to Sanur’s main beach? They have been on the premises for the past 10 years but are somewhat hard to discern amongst the plethora of signs crowded through that strip. Even less apparent from the street is the very important set of activities that is funded – in part – through the profits they generate. The budget hotel, with street side restaurant, internet and seminar facilities, has been operated as part of the income-generating activities of Bali’s Environmental Education Centre, or PPLH (Pusat Pendidikan Lingkungan Hidup). As they are unable to afford the lease renewal at this location, PPLH is planning to relocate to Jl. Hang Tuah (Denpasar) by July. Their activities, however, will continue in earnest.

The Environmental Education Centre in Sanur is part of a larger organisation of the same name, which has facilities in East Java and South Sulawesi. Unlike these longer-established branches of the PPLH family, Bali’s team focuses on urban environmental problems and in particular on household waste management. They therefore work most intensively in the southern part of Bali, although some of their programs are implemented in locations throughout the island.

PPLH’s strategy for achieving the vision of environmentally sustainable development is through education for local people. Using informal environmental education and community assistance, they aim to increase communities’ awareness and change attitudes and practices, to help maintain the balance of nature and conserve precious natural resources. The organisation has a set of programs centred around education through the school system, working with teachers and students from primary through to high school on extra-curricular activities related to the environment. Starting in 2007, there are 3 primary schools (SD) in Sanur that receive special support from PPLH and are referred to as ‘Green Schools’. They have integrated specific environmental awareness material as part of the ‘local content’ in the curriculum, which is now determined on a school-by-school basis. Between Denpasar and Kuta there are a further 8 ‘Green Teams’ – groups of students from 8 high-schools that PPLH facilitates with activities related, for example, to mangrove conservation, agriculture, waste processing and monitoring of river water quality. These groups of local adolescents recently completed making their own films about environmental issues and local community perceptions.

Across Bali there are approximately 70 schools that are members of the ‘Teachers for Environment Forum’ (Sekaa Guru Peduli Lingkungan), which is also supported and facilitated by PPLH, as part of their strategy to bring about change through education. The Forum has bi-annual meetings as well as specific activities that any teachers from the member schools are welcome to participate in. The most recent activity, launched in Singaraja this year, is the ‘Green School Safari’ (Safari Sekolah Hijau): a one day intensive environmental education session involving an entire school population in practical activities such as waste separation, paper recycling and composting. The ‘safari’ will move from regency to regency, targeting one school a month. For a cost of just Rp. 8 million (under US$100 !!), members of the public or businesses can sponsor one ‘Green School Safari’ that impacts approximately 300 young Balinese people. PT. Aqua, for example, is sponsoring the upcoming PPLH Safari at a school in Badung regency.

The PPLH team also works with adult groups, helping provide a solution to what local residents identified as a priority during a large public meeting in 1998, namely ‘rubbish’. By targeting local women in three neighbourhoods in Sanur, PPLH has facilitated a clean-up program, training in waste separation and composting, and the establishment of 7 waste management/recycling depots around Denpasar (some of which are lead by other non-government organisations). For example in Sanur Kauh area there is ‘Depot Pulasari’ and in Sanur Kaja area (near KFC) there is ‘Depot Cemara’, which recently won a national competition as the most environmentally-aware village/neighbourhood in Indonesia (‘Desa Sadar Lingkungan’). The model that PPLH has been using with local women and their communities has attracted the interest of local government and is now being replicated in other areas. The local government’s Environmental Agency is now also providing some financial support to Bali’s ‘Teachers for Environment Forum’.

These are impressive results for a local organisation staffed by just 5 people and 1 international volunteer. PPLH also has numerous local volunteers that help in the school programs. In the past, PPLH has had financial donations from Dutch government and non-government organisations, as well as from USAID (United States government). While they aim to be financially self-sustaining as an organisation, PPLH continues to seek sponsors for their work – especially now as they will lose their income from the Hotel Santai facilities when the lease ends mid year. To find out more, or to offer support to PPLH, use the website or call 281684 or 08179717120.

By Lucy Mitchell

Copyright © 2007 Lucy Mitchell

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