By John Parkin, Representing donor, Aspect Capital
EBPP was established in 1998 by David Booth. It is a charity that is dedicated to the provision of support, knowledge and materials to facilitate the sustainable social and economic development of the c 17,000 inhabitants of the 19 hamlets of Desa Ban, an area of approximately 7,000 sq hectares on the East side of Bali’s two volcanoes (Agung and Abang).
When EBPP was formed its aim was to provide a long-term and sustainable path for development of each of the villages and to do so in partnership with the villagers. This program was first aimed at addressing the endemic malnutrition, water and sanitation needs whilst beginning to lay the foundations for education provision to provide the structure for the sustainable development of the region. The labour for each of the projects is provided by the inhabitants of the villages to which they relate; enabling skill transfer and active participation; no project is initiated without the fully signed co-operation of those that will directly benefit.
Aspect Capital and EBPP
Aspect has supported EBPP for a number of years following the regular nomination of the charity by Cyrus Hendry. The initial donations were small and made as part of the monthly allocation process. In 2009 a larger donation was made; this donation of Rp473,895,450 (approx GBP36k) was provided to fully fund the provision of 116 cubangs (household rainwater collection reservoirs) in the village of Belong. The project was funded following a site visit in Sep 2009 and was started in December 2009 with completion in April 2010.
The journey to Ban
I met up with David Booth at 6.30am on 22nd Sep at Gao Gajah, just outside Ubud. Ahead of us we had a busy day planned in which we were to visit the field headquarters of EBPP and then a number of the hamlets, including Belong, to see the progress made since my last visit.
The drive from Goa Gajah to Ban takes just over an hour and most of that is on decent tarmac roads. I was joined in the car by three other members of the EBPP team including a volunteer architect who on his way to visit the construction site for the Student artists’ arts centre being built close to the school in Cegi and also a volunteer music teacher, Eliya Simantov, who has been working over the last 8-9 months to establish structured music programmes in the village schools.
On arrival at the EBPP HQ in Ban we were greeted by a number of the EBPP staff (all local to the area) who were about to set out to work on a number of the current projects. It was good to meet up again with Komang Kurniawan who is the Team Leader for all EBPP field programmes and my guide on my last visit to the region. Komang is a very important part of the EBPP operation as he acts as the key liaison between EBPP and the villagers – this is a vital link that ensures that each of the projects are agreed in detail and executed by the local people to ensure that the development is both sought, owned by the beneficiaries and thus more likely to be sustainable.
Coffee and Planning
On arrival in Ban I was greeted by the usual welcoming hospitality and also some of the strongest coffee imaginable; there certainly appeared to be an element of ‘generosity to the guest’ guiding the coffee to water ratio and I was feeling suitably wired within minutes.
I joined David and Komang as they reviewed the project plan for the renovation of Manikaji School. The school in Manikaji was one of the first building projects conducted in the early days of EBPP; the paucity of funds available at that time (US$2,000 if my memory serves me well) is now being reflected in the building and there is a much-needed renovation project planned.
One of the characteristics of David’s approach to his work is attention to detail. The project plan for the Aspect Capital cubangs, detailing the cost of the projects down to the cost of the 3cm nails vs. the 10cm nails, illustrated this facet of all EBPP’s project work – the transparency of the charity is second to none in my experience. The brief planning meeting that I joined for the Manikaji project provided another example of David and Komang’s commendable focus upon the minutiae.
Into the 4WD
After the meeting in Ban; David, Komang and I headed off to Manikaji to see the school and drop in on some of the lessons. The journey from Ban to Manikaji is made up the steep slopes of the side of the volcano; this is where a 4WD or a trail bike is required to make decent progress.
Bouncing around in the back of the truck on the dirt track it was easy to see the significant challenges posed by the topography of the area. The hamlets are remote and the steepness of the slopes makes cultivation a major problem – this was the reason why the local diet was so reliant upon cassava (being one of the very few plants able to take root on the slopes) and thus the villagers exhibited the horrendous effects of cyanide poisoning, iodine deficiency and malnutrition diseases including goitres.
Each of the 116 cubangs that Aspect Capital funded required 35 sacks of cement or over 4,000 sacks in total – these all had to be transported to the hamlets and although truck transportation was possible for some, almost half of the cubangs are not accessible by vehicle so the sacks and the rest of the materials were carried on foot – I was certainly happy to be visiting the project after completion rather than during!
Music and Yoga
On reaching Manikaji school (a small building with approximately 8 rooms) we stopped to watch a yoga class in progress. The introduction of yoga is a recent development (2008) and is now provided by the Breath of Hope Foundation, (‘a not-for-profit, educational organization dedicated to fostering empowerment in children and communities through the mind-body practice of yoga’ Source: BoHF) to all EBPP schools.
It was a real pleasure to be witness to the way in which the children interact with each other and their teachers during these music lessons – it was also a chance to get involved (with a bit of clapping along).
The introduction of Eliya to the EBPP staff is good example of David’s focus on high quality service provision and sustainable long-term development. Eliya brings to the music programme the structure that comes from being able to read and write music, this then complements the existing local music teachers who all play and compose by ear.
Visiting a Posyandu
After leaving Manikaji we headed back towards Ban on the way to Belong. We stopped in Ban to visit one of the 27 Posyandu (health posts). The posyandu are an EBPP initiative staffed by medics from the island, they provide nutritious food, health education, vaccinations, eye-testing and myriad health treatments for 1,200 mothers and 1,400 infants between the ages of 0 and 5 years. Many of the treatments have been specifically funded through donations from individuals and organisations with many of the vaccination programmes funded in the last five years. Although the posyandu was somewhat rudimentary it was clear from the number of mothers and children present that this is a much-needed and valued resource.
Belong: Before and After
The journey to Belong is, once again, made up very steep dirt tracks. The hamlet is made up of 306 families and 116 of these families now have a cubang that provides clean and safe water for domestic use.
The problem that previously existed was clear to see on my visit. Some families had old rain collection systems and these old rain-capture systems are still in place. The old systems comprised of little more than a large concrete bowl that is open to the elements (see below). The water that was captured in these containers was impossible to keep free of disease; this increased the risk of sickness and also meant that each of the families still had to trek over 3 hours to the nearest source of clean and safe water. As the old water containers were not designed to be covered or to provide filtered water it was not cost effective to adapt them; the building of new cubangs provided the most cost efficient approach. However, as with most societies where resources are scarce, there will be no wastage – the old containers will remain to provide a water source for crops and cattle.
The new cubangs were clearly the pride and joy of each of the families that I met. The enthusiasm with which they provided a demonstration of their new device was striking.
The new cubangs represent a very efficient solution to the provision of one of life’s essential sustainers. Not only does the cubang store rainwater collected during the wet season (typically October to March), but that rainwater is also filtered using very efficient but cheap filters of charcoal, gravel and jute. The rainwater is often collected from the run-off from buildings (as below) and then a simple pump system allows for easy access to the filtered water.
It was truly fascinating and fabulous to see the impact that the Aspect Capital donation has made; this has genuinely transformed the lives of 116 families and provided them all with a much more solid foundation upon which develop their lives further. One immediate impact (beyond the provision of safe water) has been an increase in the time that the families can spend on other activities now that they do not have the regular time-consuming trips to collect safe water – the cultivation of crops and cattle has progressed significantly in the last six months as a result.
We concluded the day with a short visit to Cegi to visit the school that I had seen a year ago and also the new arts centre that is being built from bamboo and is as much an education project as a construction exercise. The building project is helping to educate all in terms of both bamboo cultivation and the specifics of its use in construction and this directly inputs into the ‘bamboo for reforestation programme’ project that represents one of the major EBPP programmes that can build a sustainable source of income for the region.
My trip to EBPP was fascinating, educational and very rewarding. There are a tremendous amount of positives to be cited in both the ‘Aspect cubang project’ and the wider work of EBPP. Having spent more time with both David Booth and Komang Kurniawan I am further convinced of the efficacy of their approach; the benefits are clear to see on the faces of the families.