Balai Warga and Kebun Wisata Tanaman Obat

Text and Pictures by Anggriani Arifin.

Fostering a communal sense of home amongst Community of RW 09, Kelurahan Pondok Kelapa, Jakarta Timur:  What was the background of the initiative?

It begins when the community of RW 09, Kelurahan Pondok Kelapa felt the demand to have a secretariat’s office for daily administrative matters. Having located in a state-owned housing complex, the neighbourhood was in luck as there was a vacant land that was already allocated for social facility. With an area of over 500 square meters, the previous idea took a turn and elaborated into having a multi-function assembly hall. A series of lobbying process took place and finally the PD. Sarana Jaya approved the proposal with construction stage kick-started in 2003.

When Balai Warga comes into place…

The hall evoked community’s enthusiasms and became the manifestation of the RW officials’ humble intention, which is to ensure that every resident has a genuine sense of ownership toward their neighbourhood with a commonly-used public place. The effort to create a functioning public place was reflected in the name the community reffered to the assembly hall, which is “Balai Warga” in the hoped that in the truest sense belongs to every residents of the neighbourhood. The place could be utilize not only for community meetings, but the place was also open to be reserved for badminton games, weddings, private function, Karang Taruna and PKK agenda and any other social activities.

In light of such spirit, every phase in the construction process was self-organized and self-funded by the community. The building was 371 square meters, well-designed and facing the neighbourhood’s basketball field. The initiative had invited a relatively large attention and able to gain supports from the  local government. In 2007, Balai Warga had reached its final completion and the community of RW 09 began to enjoy the presence of a representable, comfortable and usable social facility  that is at the same time, informative on the neighbourhood’s activity.

Making neighborhood a home…

Balai Warga’s construction had fueled RW officials’ motivation to continue making betterment to the neighborhood.

Community-based Solid-Waste Management and Biopori Holes. In 2005, the buzz of community-based solid waste management reached the area, a site visit to pioneering Kelurahan Rawajati, South Jakarta was made. To make the neighbourhood environmentally-conscious by managing their solid waste was in response to the area’s vulnerability to flood and the lacking capacity of the surrounded transit disposal sites. The idea was very simple. Residents separate the waste, following the well-known organic, non-organic and toxic waste typology although for practicality, the residents were only expected to separate based on waste that was compost-material, recyclable to be given to scavengers and kinds that could not be utilize for either purpose, should be put in the waste residue category.  The seemingly easy task has proven to be quite difficult to be followed by the residents. Up to now, only a minority group in RW 09 who separated their waste. A short-term solution was proposed. The waste would be separated in a solid management post near the Balai Warga, cooperating with surrounding scavengers who were hired as staff. Although behavior changes was still encouraged, but the method had kept the composting production on-going and motivates the community to start separating waste.

For the composting process, the community of RW 09 opted for a simple method after a series of consultation and visit, The process of turning the organic waste into compost take within a 6-7 week period, with phases comprising of waste separation, aging, turning, sprinkling, and riping. The high points of this method is that it does not require incenerator, without using bio activator, does not produce odour and does not invite flies. Using this method, the compost production can now reach up to 200 bags per week, with selling price of Rp. 3000,- per bag.

In addition to the initiative, the RW officials also utilized biopori methods to reduce waste production and reducing flood risk (the neighbourhood occasionally suffered from flood risk, although a river embankment and dredging initiative of nearby Jati Kramat river in 2007-2008 had significantly overcome the threat). Up to 300 biopori holes were made around parks and main roads in the neighbourhood.

Kebun Wisata Tanaman Obat  (Agritourism Herbal Garden) and Green Spaces. The idea was to create an icon for the community that they can be proud of and would like to take part in its success. Located next to Balai Warga, the herbal garden was open for site visits, an information centre on herbs, its benefits and usage, increase awareness on natural health remedies, and as a functioning green space which can be enjoyed by the community.

The garden was built on a 5000 square metre land, and was self funded by the residents. It possessed up to ninety (90) types of herbal plants that was grown there. This effort was assisted by the ASPETRI (associaton of traditional herbs producers of Indonesia). A bamboo-made saung was also constructed with the idea that the residents can reserve the place for lunch, meetings or simply to have family moments overlooking the gardens and the balai warga. The overall idea was to ensure that the garden could really be utilized by the community.

To further creating livability, community were encouraged to have green plants in front of their home and on almost every streets within the neighbourhood. To add tidiness, the trotoirs were repainted and pots of plants were also put on the main streets, as well as making green spaces in idle lands.

Creating  Livability

The message that was continuously buzzed in the neighbourhood management is that a clean is the key to a healthy and comfortable living environment, in which community’s participation in maintaining the condition is pivotal. To keep the neighbourhood alive, community activities were highly encouraged, with routines like RW siaga (to combat dengue fever), kerja bakti (voluntary community work), independence day’s events trail, aerobics, and others, as well as incidentals such as Kampung Anti Narkoba (anti-drugs kampung) movement by building Anti-Narkoba posts accross the area. A monthly newsletter, Warta 09¸ were also circulated to keep every resident informed and acknowledged as part of the community.

Initiatives like one that RW 09 have, certainly would not take place without the work of a rigorous and dedicated RW officials as well as a supportive community. However, it would also never take place if there was no intention to nurture partnership amongst residents and the Rukun Warga (RW) official in making the neighbourhood becomes a home, instead of mere space, to be shared together. The community of RW 09, as well as many communities in DKI Jakarta, had proven that this simple intention is enough to ignite significant changes in any neighborhood.

6 thoughts on “Balai Warga and Kebun Wisata Tanaman Obat

  1. eppel says:

    Dear Anggi, is there any specific person who craft the motivation into this interesting initiative (the person behind the show)? and whether there’s any plan to spread the model? eager to know…

  2. Chris Watkins says:

    Thanks for the info. I visited last Sunday with a friend – it’s a nice garden, in a nice, leafy neighborhood, and a well-organized compost area.

    Apparently flooding is a problem – they have lots of “biopori” holes (I don’t know if there’s an English word for that) but a lot of water comes from higher areas surrounding it. There’s a need for more green space, “rain gardens” – and permeable pavements, in higher areas that create runoff, and not just the areas that suffer from flood.

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