Sustaining livelihoods in dryland — Collaboration of researcher and community

Yenny Tjoe (centre front) with members of the project team and the community, 26 Oct 2016.

Ms Yenny Tjoe is a PhD candidate in Griffith University’s Department of International Business and Asian Studies. Her research topic is “Sustaining livelihoods in dryland”, and through this research she hopes to find ways to support the dryland community in West Timor cope with the impacts of global warming.

During her data collection (June-November 2013), she lived and experienced the daily life of a community in Hauhena, a hamlet located in Timor Tengah Selatan Regency, West Timor.

She learnt that this community has local knowledge of the surrounding area and a well preserved forest where water can be found year round.

The forest, however, is very far, and the women and children of Hauhena must spend at least 2 hours a day walking down and up the steep hill to collect water.

The project team work together with the community to allow the transfer of knowledge, 26 Oct 2016.

Seeing this challenge first-hand, she wished to improve their livelihoods and went on to initiate the Hauhena Water Project. Through the collaboration of local knowledge and technology, the project’s main goal has focused on bringing water closer to the people.

Yenny and her friends in Australia, Indonesia and Europe, managed to raise sufficient project funding support through various social media campaigns. She then collaborated with an engineer (Geng Motor Imut) and an activist from a local non-governmental organisation (Pikul Society) in Kupang City, West Timor, to implement the project. As a team of three, they worked with the community to plan and design a better water access for the community.

“The community is the main part of this project. It is important that they feel connected and have a sense of belonging.”

The project is expected to come to a close in March 2017. It will supply water directly to 30 households (with an average of 5-6 members per house), with a capacity of 300 litres per day per household. Once this project is complete, Yenny will continue to focus on studying the community’s pattern of using water, and provide them with ways to improve their management of water.

Article by Ms Yenny Tjoe, PhD candidate, Department of International Business and Asian Studies, Griffith University.