Friday, October 12, 2012

The Tale of Two Cities

There is a lot to be learned from sharing lessons between cities. This was the foundation of the organization I previously worked for Sustainable Cities International. This is also one of the motivating factors behind the creation of the EcoFlores Network.

Its true Flores is still on the verge of major development but there are already a lot interesting initiatives already working here. 

The problem is they don't talk to each other, or in some cases don't know about it each other.

I want to share with you the story of two cities on Flores that have a lot to learn from each other and hopefully because of the EcoFlores Congress last week will get the chance to make this happen. 

Labuan Bajo

Papa D'Joe sorting plastic in Labuan Bajo

Once a small fishing village, Labuan Bajo is now the busy bustling epicenter of tourism on Flores. It is the launching point for trips to Komodo Island and Rinca Island, home to the famous Komodo dragons (check out my post here if you missed it)

With this boom in tourism has come a flood of foreign development. This boom in growth has left the port city with a severe lack of infrastructure (water, sanitation, waste... you get the picture).

However, what Labuan Bajo does have going for it is a group of concerned citizens including local and foreign business owners, dive operators and tour guides that are trying to make a difference in Labuan Bajo.

Labuan Bajo's most notably achievement is the Plastic Man Institute started by Papa D'Joe. The Plastic Man Institue is open every Saturday and encourages locals to collect and bring it into the center in exchange for money (or in the case of school children money deposited in a education savings account).

However, what Labuan Bajo lacks is involvement from the local government, regular garbage collection (for households and businesses) and proper infrastructure for final disposal.


An initiative of the Bank Sampah Sahabat in Ende: Segregated Waste Bins from
recycled tires. These colourful waste bins can be found all around town no. 

Unlike Labuan Bajo, Ende is more of a transfer point than a destination for most tourists visiting Flores. However, Ende is a lively bustling city in its own right. In Ende, the local government has taken interest in Waste Management as a priority and is currently operating regular waste collection for households and businesses, funds a Bank Sampah (like a recycling center) where individuals can sell their recyclables for money and is currently planning to build a Engineered Landfill and 2 composting/recycling centers in 2 separate villages.

However, what Ende is lacking is the support and participation from local businesses and residents. Sure the number of customers to the Bank Sampah is increasing every month and sales continue to grow (approx 9,000,000 rph last month alone). The truth is government programs need buy in from the community in order to be sustainable.

Sharing Lessons Learned

Later this month I will be assisting Swiss Contact an international NGO working here in Flores with a waste assessment visit to Ende. Swiss Contact is working closely with the community and local government in Labuan Bajo to establish an Integrated Waste Management System for the city.

It is so refreshing to see cities sharing their experiences and hopefully learning from each other. The key to Integrated Waste Management is having all stakeholders working together for the benefit of the community.

If you haven't already check out the Eco Flores Website. You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter (@EcoFlores)

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