WCF 2016: interpreting water as the source of life

WCF 2016: interpreting water as the source of life

Subak expert, Wayan Windia, giving his presentation on Subak, the Balinese irrigation system (World Culture Forum 2016)

Bali, Oct. 12, 2016 (Antara) -- Subak or water irrigation system for rice field became the main focus in symposium 2 held as a side event of World Culture Forum 2016. Highlighting the theme “Water for life: Reconciling Socio-Economic Growth and Environmental Ethichs”, Indonesian Government encouraged all world’s community to discuss the importance of water as a part of social growth and sustainable development.

The program brought three experts in irrigation and environment sectors as speakers; Wayan Windia (Subak Expert), Hendro Sangkoyo (Environmental activist), dan Satoko Kishimoto (irrigation expert). They described how water is related to human life and local culture. The traditional irrigation system or Subak becomes one of true model of the culture of water management in Bali, which was the main topic of symposium 2.

In his presentation, Wayan Windia explained that the topography of Bali was one of the reasons for the importance of Subak. “Subak is widely applied in Bali because of the sloping topography of Bali, giving opportunity to distribute water fairly. Every Subak has to have one special canal to irrigate the rice field, which will irrigate another canal and Subak in the lower level.” He said. Subak, he added, must be able to distribute water only through one inlet and outlet.

Meanwhile, Hendro Sangkoyo was more focusing on water crisis in a number of regions in Indonesia. According to Hendro, most water-related problems occur because of peoples’ irresponsible act of throwing garbage into the river and the ill effects of exploration and extraction of oil and gas.

“City expansion also resulted in water crisis, due to rampant water extraction. The Greenbelt planning which was planned by government to save land and water was defeated by the strong will to build hotels and villas. In some cases, water crisis has created strong conflict and mistrust between farmers and local citizens.” Hendro stated.

He also said that some complex situations in water issues are created by irresponsible people. “The period of cooperation between economic and social nexuses could become the solution for solving the social-economic problem among government, public, and local citizen. Social practice can also be solution to solve the crisis”. He said.

On the other hand, Satoko Kishimoto gave another view. He said that water should be treated as human being not as commodity which would eventually create a new problem. “Water should be publicly accessible. Everyone should be able to acquire water easily. If you consider water as commodity, other problems will arise.” Stated Satoko. “In Jakarta, for example, where clean water becomes major issue and in eventually many people extract ground water despite the fact of the contaminated extracted ground water and the worsening soil sinking of Jakarta. People of Jakarta, especially the poor ones, should buy water with an expensive tariff,” he concluded.