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Exploring Life In Mimika's Rural Coastland

23 April 2014   |   Others News
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Many know and consider Manasari to be a village in eastern Mimika, but in fact Manasari , or Kampung Manasari as it is more often called, consists of two villages, Omawita and Fanamo. The villages are located in  Mimika Timur Jauh (Far Eastern Mimika) District in Mimika Regency, and are only reached through water transport, on the river or by sea, with a traveling time of around 3 hours.  Departure may be made from the government-operated Pomako Port, or Freeport Indonesia's cargo dock.

That morning, together with Social Local Development (SLD) Department I visited Manasari. What is peculiar about traveling to the area is that the tides must be observed. It is best to head there in the morning when the tide is high, and return  in the afternoon. We opted to take the cargo dock route on a speedboat, traversing waterways winding among verdant mangroves.  For a quicker journey, the canal built by the Environmental Department for the convenience of Kampung Manasari villagers so that their boats are not rocked by high waves at sea, or run aground in shallow streams, is a good choice. Oh, and before we set out, we remembered to turn off our cell phones, as in the mangrove jungle  we would not be able to receive any signal. 

Along our journey we came upon Manasari villagers catching fish on small dugouts, and groups of Kamoro women looking for crabs, as well as elementary school-age children paddling by themselves without adult accompaniment. We were somewhat awestruck about how they all seemed to be at one with nature. Manasari villagers are Kamoro who live by local wisdom on the coast and are inseparable from the sea.  They are familiar with the sea since childhood, and the majority of Kamoro children are skilful divers and boatpeople.  Wow!!!

Eventually we arrived in Manasari. After mooring our boat to one of the  numerous small piers dotting the shore, we continued on foot to the village center. At a glance, Manasari is much like the villages of other SP settlements in Mimika Regency. But the difference here is that houses are built on wooden stilts, in clusters. The homes of Manasari residents were built by the Mimika local administration, out of timber and with tin roofs. The timber is abundantly found in surrounding forests. 

As I first described, geographically the Manasari area consists of settlement land and forests. Its size is comparable to two neighborhood units, RT 1 & 2 in RW (community unit) A in Kuala Kencana. As Mimika regency developed, in 2013, to be precise on June 13, the capital of  Mimika Timur Jauh District was mover from Ayuka to Manasari in an endeavor to bring public services closer to villages under the Mimika Timur Jauh District administrative jurisdiction. This move was formally officiated by then Mimika Regent  Abdul Muis, in Manasari. On the same occasion, the regent officially launched a village empowerment program in the Manasari area, known as the Coastal Development Program. The program is a partnership between the Mimika Regency administration, PT Freeport Indonesia, the Amungme and Kamoro Community Development Organization (LPMAK), and the Timika Catholic Church Diocese. 

Village Infrastructure

Signs of development in Manasari were apparent, as in the public facilities erected out of the partnership of stakeholders.  As we circled the village on our way to the village center, we observed several newly constructed public facility buildings, such as an annex to the elementary school that was built by LPMAK and the local administration. Elsewhere was spotted an auxiliary community health center (Pustu) and two residences housing medical staff, built by the local administration for health officers serving Manasari on a rotating basis.  Meanwhile, Freeport Indonesia assisted in providing boat transportation for health officers and teachers assigned regularly to Manasari. 

Still another educational facility was a lower middle school building built by LPMAK. Children duly graduating from elementary school will not have to make the long journey to Timika in order to attend middle school. Church youths also actively provide extracurricular activities for schoolchildren during the afternoons.  

Other public facilities included a government complex currently consisting of an office for village officials, and a community hall. What was still lacking was a security building.

Residents

The Central Statistics Agency noted in 2012 that Manasari had a population of 1,493, residing in the two hamlets of Omawita and Fanamo. Only a 2-meter concrete road separates the two hamlets, built under the RESPEK and PNPM Mandiri programs. And do not expect to see four-wheeled or even two-wheeled vehicles here, as residents use water transport. The village is clean, with Manasari residents aware of sanitation thanks to counseling from health officers. But residents also maintain ancestral rites and customs, and carry out traditional ceremonies at certain times. 

Lighting is provided by the local administration through solar cells installed in a number of houses in each hamlet. But as solar cells are inadequately available, Freeport is assisting with  a LIMAR (Listrik Mandiri Rakyat/ Local Electrical Self-Sufficiency) program. The LIMAR program employs wet cell battery-powered electricity generators that are routinely charged by Social Local Development (SLD) Dept. staff. With lighting available, residents can remain active even at night. At the launching of the LIMAR program, the SLD team set up an improvised outdoor cinema in the village square for the entertainment of residents. And what a super  night out at the beach that was ….!

Rainwater cisterns supply clean water for residents' daily needs. Unfortunately these are inadequate during the dry season, when residents are forced to resort to brackish water. But now deep wells are being built at various spots, and water will be supplied through water tanks  using solar cell energy. The project is still in progress, but now there is hope to surmount the water crisis during the dry season. 

The majority of villagers here gain economic livelihood from fishing. They primarily catch fish and karaka (crabs).  They sell their catches directly at the small wharves, to the  Maria Bintang Laut Cooperative (KMBL) as well as to local middlemen who are migrant residents in Manasari. The presence of KMBL has helped to establish standard pricing of fishermen's catches, which previously were at the whim of local middlemen. According to the SLD team, the villagers' karaka (crabs) and fish catches are distributed to Java and Bali. And reportedly, we can find Timika karaka served in the Mangga Besar area in Central Jakarta. Hurray!! In addition to going out to sea to fish, villagers have learnt to plant crops. LPMAK in conjunction with Papua University (UNIPA) has assigned a special agricultural staff to provide accompaniment for villagers to grow gardens. The aim is to provide alternative foods and boost household economies. Thanks to this cooperation program,  residents of Manasari harvested their first crop of peanuts, which event was celebrated with a traditional ceremony in which stakeholders participated. It was reportedly a lively event!  

And now our trip to Manasari came to an end. Before leaving, we remembered to take pictures with residents. This had been a memorable experience for me. I saw how stakeholders work hand in hand to serve Manasari residents specifically, and the Mimika  Regency public in general, in the best way possible. And this success was achieved with engagement of all partners in sustainable development in Mimika Regency. (Trian Purnamasari)

Source: Fishery Development team, SLD Dept.

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