(2011-10-31)

Community management: ‘sasi’, or in Tanimbar Kei to as ‘hawear’

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- Many communities in Indonesia show the capacity through their local cultural traditions to maintain their local natural resources. For example, recognizing that they need the food these fishing grounds in order to survive they manage them as sustainable resources. Since their lives depend upon these resources, understandably coastal communities resist efforts to open their local fishing grounds to open access (where anyone can come in). This is in contrast and leads us to question popular claims that when community-based development or conservation programs in remote locations fail, they do so as a consequence of a lack of will or capacity on the part of local people. Tanimbar Kei demonstrates that local people often have the will and the capacity to preserve their culture and environment, while improving their livelihoods at the same time. To the southeast from Ambon lies the Kei Archipelago, Maluku. The small island of Tanimbar Kei is located on the edge of the archipelago, in the subdistrict of Kei Kecil Barat, some five hours by boat from Kei’s economic centre, Tual. With a small village of about 600 people, Tanimbar Kei has become known locally for its strong traditional culture or adat. The social core of the adat community is embedded in the ‘laowan’. The residents still successfully manage these resources according to complex adat beliefs.