Indonesia: East Nusa Tenggara faces continuous water deficit, drought

Djemi Amnifu The Jakarta Post 22 Aug 16;

Despite a series of infrastructure projects to provide clean water to residents of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), the province continues to suffer from a lack of clean water due to low rainfall in recent years.

With the help of financial assistance from the central government, the province has seen the construction of artesian wells and water reservoirs to supply clean water.

However, the province is still suffering a water deficit of up to 1.5 billion cubic meters per year.

“We currently have artificial lakes, artesian wells and a dam, but they can only accommodate 58 million cubic meters of water. This is certainly not enough to deal with the existing water deficit,” NTT public works agency head Andre Koreh said on Friday.

He said there were periods when rainfall was high across the province, however the rainwater then flowed into the sea due to inefficient water catchment areas.

“This is what has led NTT to see water deficits of up to 1.5 billion cubic meters annually,” Andre said.

He said good water-resource management could help solve the problem, but due to infrastructure challenges, the province would need Rp 4 trillion to fund such initiatives.

Unfortunately, the provincial budget could only allocate Rp 4 billion per year. “This is most surely insufficient for what is needed,” he said.

The central government’s budget allocation for the province increased from Rp 1 trillion in 2014 to over
Rp 3 trillion last year.

“This is inseparable from the President’s Nawacita program of developing Indonesia from the fringes and strengthening border areas. NTT is very strategically positioned to receive larger budget allocations,” he said.

Andre said that to deal with the water problem, particular areas were engineered to become water reservoirs.

According to him, when the provincial administration plans to develop water catchment areas, social issues such as problems with land acquisition emerge because some people do not want dams built on their land.

Andre said that the neighboring province, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), was able to deal with water supply issues because it had 16 artificial lakes. Its eastern neighbor, on the other hand, only has one dam, with two others under construction. In fact, both started developing dams in 2000.

“The Kolhua and Lambo dams up to the present cannot be developed because of land problems. In fact, both should have been developed before the two that are currently under construction,” he said.

Despite the problems, Andre said, the plan to develop seven dams in NTT had been included in the Presidential decree including the Rotiklot and Raknamo dams currently under construction.

The five other dams to developed in the province include Maniking in Kupang regency, Temef in South Timor Tengah (TTS) regency, Napung Gete in Sikka regency, Lambo in Ngada regency and Kolhua in Kupang city.

The seven dams, according to Andre, were among 49 dams to be developed by the central government. He added that the Cipta Karya directorate general said that the number of dams to be developed in NTT could be increased from seven to 12. “But we are facing land problems. People still think that developing infrastructure is the same as eradicating ethnic groups,” he said.

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