Indonesian villagers protect underground springs

Priest lends support to villagers wanting to impose new regulations to shore up water supplies  
Indonesian villagers protect underground springs

Heribertus Naif (standing) delivers a speech at a regulation-drafting meeting seminar in Sikka district, East Nusa Tenggara province. (Photo provided by Heribertus Naif)

May 26, 2017
A priest in Indonesia's Flores Island has got behind villagers trying to protect underground springs ahead of an anticipated drought.

Currently, 22 villages in four sub-districts are drafting regulations that contain an order to plant trees close to the underground springs and a ban on deforesting within 200 meters of them since trees help retain water.  

The move to protect 174 underground springs came after the Independent Farmers Forum, a non-governmental organization, conducted a study that showed that environmental destruction was affecting the water supply.

Heribertus Naif, a program manager at the NGO, said regulations are needed "because it is the most drought-prone area in East Nusa Tenggara province." 

Father Tasman Ware from Reinha Rosary Parish in Hale Hebing took part in preparing the regulations. "The church surely supports the plan," he said.

"The plan is in accordance with Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato si, which is a call to protect the Earth for the sake of all creation including human beings," the priest told on May 23.

Sergius Solo, head of Dobo Nuu Apu village, said that his village uses ten springs.

"We have much water during the rainy season but when dry seasons comes, particularly in June and July, underground springs become smaller. Some even run dry," he said.

He believed the new regulations, expected to be finished in 2018, will include robust punishments. "Violators will pay a penalty, which is to provide all villagers with cooked rice and pork," he added.

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