Yayasan Bina Usaha Lingkungan (YBUL) is a not-for-profit organization in Jakarta, Indonesia, that works throughout Indonesia in promoting sustainable development, advocating the use of renewable energy as well as assisting small and medium enterprises and linking them to technology, market and financial access. As part of its commitment to support good environmental practices, YBUL has been hosting the Global Environment Facility-Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) since 1996.
The GEF SGP Indonesia supports activities of non-governmental and community-based organizations throughout Indonesia, in climate change abatement, biodiversity conservation, protection of international waters, reduction of the impact of persistent organic pollutants, and prevention of land degradation while generating sustainable livelihoods. One of the GEF SGP Indonesia’s best practices is the micro-hydro project in the villages surrounding Mount Simpang Nature Reserve, West Java. The main purpose of the project is to provide support for the community surrounding the Cibuluh forest, Mount Simpang, in managing sustainable natural resources, through the development of the micro hydropower plant facility, training, and strengthening the network’s capacity. Water resources from the local forest area provide the power for the micro-hydropower plant. The water management for energy production contributed a lot to reduce the risk of conflict between the local community’s need for electricity and the need for conservation.
The people’s awareness and change of behaviour have been viewed as positive indicators for the project’s goals, especially for environmental conservation. Because of that, the project has been considered worthy to be analyzed for replication elsewhere. The project’s biggest impact was the replication in other areas (e.g Mekarjaya Village, Gelar Pawitan Village, Puncak Baru Village), so the number of the 20kW power plants has increased from 1 to 5 units, and more people in other areas have the capacity to maintain them. In addition, the community also built one micro-hydro power plant as proof of their awareness on the importance to reduce dependence on state-owned electricity enterprises.
The project’s initial challenge was doubts about such initiative, as it did not come from the Indonesian State Electricity Company (PLN), and because two neighbouring villages had bad experiences with outsiders attempting to help them establish the similar scheme. After a careful and convincing approach, a 20kW micro-hydro power plant providing electricity to 60 houses was installed in April 2006 within a year. If there is a lesson worth sharing from this project, it is its successful influence on the local government policies, such as the village regulation on land management, because the local government then saw the importance of sustainable land management for electricity providers. The policy becomes the community’s legal guidance in managing their natural resources to fulfil their electricity needs.
Originally appeared here