18 April 2012
A University of the Sunshine Coast academic has received funding from Irrigation Australia to further an investigation into how water resources are allocated on the Indonesian island of Lombok.
USC’s Senior Lecturer in Regional and Urban Planning Dr Claudia Baldwin will work in conjunction with researchers from the University of Mataram (UNRAM) in Indonesia to examine Lombok’s decision-making process for water distribution.
“Historically, 85 percent of all the water in Lombok is used for irrigation for rice and, until recently, that has been the Indonesian Government’s top priority,” Dr Baldwin said.
“However, the expansion of the population and tourism has prompted greater competition for water than ever before. Water quality is also declining.
“About 40 percent of the springs that are fed from Mount Rinjani and flow into the major creeks have now run dry, in some cases triggering conflict over who is getting how much water.”
Dr Baldwin said last year USC signed an agreement with the Provincial Government of Nusa Tenggara Barat to develop a program of education and research to benefit both countries.
She said this could be achieved most effectively by collaborating on projects with the local university, UNRAM.
“While Australia has a sophisticated system of water allocation, what interests me about Lombok is the way that people do dialogue about community issues like water,” she said. “I think we could learn from that.
“The Badan Musyawarah is a type of community deliberation that can be used in solving water disputes and other civic problems.”
Dr Baldwin will use a $4,000 travel award from Irrigation Australia to fund her trip to Lombok in early June. She plans to present the findings from her research at the Irrigation Australia 2012 Conference and Trade Show in Adelaide from 24-29 June.
— Michelle Widdicombe