Dayak Cultural Arts Revitalization
The ancestral Dayak Ikat weaving art of Borneo has become increasingly rare, and the cultural weaving tradition has begun to disappear. To curve this loss, in collaboration with the KOBUS Foundation, PRCF helped to initiate the revitalisation of Dayak weaving traditions in the Sintang region of West Kalimantan. The goal has been to help local Dayak weavers revive valuable elements of their weaving culture by enhancing artistic and managerial aspects of their weaving, and to help establish village-level institutions to help weavers attain self-sufficiency and sustainability.
Tembawang enrichment planning
As Ikat weavings coloured by natural dyes are more culturally significant and fetch higher prices, we worked with weavers from 16 villages to help the village enrich their forest gardens (Tembawangs), with scarce dye-producing plants. The initiative facilitated access to natural dyes and provided incentives to help protect local remnant forests and village Tembawangs.
Ikat artistic design and symbolism research
Dayak weaving is rich in tradition and symbolism, with processes, representations, and cultural values passed from one generation to the next through grandmothers, and mothers to daughters. But the intrinsic value of the Ikat weave fades out as the Ikat process gives away to commercial textiles, and the meaning of weave design and motifs are forgotten. To prevent the loss of traditional weaving knowledge, we conducted research in the Sintang and Kapuas Hulu regions of West Kalimantan to collect “Ikat dreams”, the traditional precursor of all weavings; “Ikat-symbols”, depicted in each of the designs within the weaves; and “Ikat representations,” symbolising the weaver’s dream through a careful arrangement of interlaced and sequenced motifs.
Village-level institutional development
Traditional village institutions, although quite strong in the past, had began to fade in light of modernisation. To revitalize traditional arts, we helped strengthen village institutions by helping to form villager self-help groups and by helping weavers from sixteen villages form a weavers’ cooperative called Jasa Menenun Mandiri—or Weavers Go Independent.
At present the cooperative’s members include more than 900 Dayak women weavers; from a modest initial membership of about 30 women. Given its success, and that in effect the cooperative is now running essentially independently, we are now limiting our support to marketing and remaining needed technical assistance.
Village Development in the Buffer Zone Bukit-Baka
Nanga Juoi is a small, remote village surrounded by protected primary forests, logged-over forests, and degraded brush-lands. The village is located on the border of the Bukit Baka-Bukit Raya National Park and within a timber concession. A long-term objective of the PRCF in Nanga Juoi is to help the community attain and maintain sustainable living conditions, while at the same time helping protect the natural resources that surround them. We have found that as the program advances in the village, it has helped create incentives for the community to link nature conservation to their own social and economic development.
Rural water system
With technical support from USAID consultants and two private donors, PRCF constructed a rural water system to improve water access and sanitary conditions to the remote village of Nanga Juoi. The villages’ traditional water supply would soon be damaged by first concession practices. This was PRCF’s first conservation and development project.
With PRCF support, the village of Nanga Juoi built ten community fish ponds with a combined total of about 800 square meters, and a water canal to constantly feed the fish ponds with fresh water. The program included fish pellet feed production and poultry production. It also included protection of village natural forests and establishment of agroforestry production systems.
Village-level community based tourism
With villagers and the KOBUS Centre, PRCF assisted the village of Nanga Juoi to develop a village-level tourism program to bring in funding to the village while maintaining the community’s cultural traditions. The eco-truism program would be complemented by other activities at the village that included agroforestry, fish ponds, and construction of a small guesthouse at the village centre.
Community-based Training Center for Grassland and Forest Rehabilitation
One of the long-term objectives of the PRCF in the Ransi Panjang region is to foster nature conservation through the involvement of self-reliant communities who enjoy economic sustainability. To foster this objective, we have provided incentives to villagers to rehabilitate degraded forestlands. We have complemented this by providing training and giving technical assistance to strengthen local capacities, and by offering financial support to further community-based activities. The long-term aim at this site is to establish a village-led training center to teach farmers how to rehabilitate degraded forests and grasslands, and how to apply productive land-use alternatives in “alang-alang” areas.
Ransi Panjang Degraded Lands Rehabilitation Program
Ransi Panjang is a Dayak Desa village established within a mosaic of alang-alang grasslands and remnant gallery forests. We worked there to promote traditional agroforestry practices with a potential to reclaim degraded grassland areas, and to undertake forestry activities that would enrich household forest gardens, referred to locally as Tembawangs. Among other things, the program helped establish 50 ha of hybrid rubber plantations, half hectare per household, through PRCF’s first Village Self Help Group. The program was designed with a self-help theme, whereby PRCF provided technical assistance and only 40% subsidies for materials to build the rubber plantations.
Through land rehabilitation activities, and assisted natural regeneration methods, we have helped fifty village households establish twenty-two hectares of rubber hybrid plantations. Recent assessments have shown that the program helped significantly the household economies of participating villagers’ household.
Village self-help group
A Village Self-help Group was established to help farmers organize themselves to market their products, and to address relevant community needs through a savings and loans scheme attached to the village institution. In support of the Self-help Group, we have also provided technical and financial assistance to establish a Clone Rubber Garden with six different clone varieties. This has has helped villagers improve their own plantations and supported the savings and loans scheme through funds coming from clone sale proceeds.