While a seemingly trivial issue, the impact is significant, as without clearly defined village borders, neither district nor village governments are able to adequately plan their development or respond swiftly to environmental challenges. The gray areas can also lead to conflict. In Sintang, MADANI’s Lead Partner and Learning Forum identified lack of community involvement as a key factor in why the mapping of village boundaries has been so slow, and thus increasing community involvement in this process became the focus of the local solution they designed through MADANI.
In 2021, the MADANI Lead Partner in Sintang, Swandiri Inisiatif Sintang (SIS), started to reach out to community groups to incorporate them into the planning processes for village borders. All involved agreed on the need for clear land boundaries and the mapping of natural resources, which, as a result of a lack of proper geographical data, had not been able to be utilized optimally. For example, in Tebing Raya village, there are many potential sengkubak plants (Pycnarrhena cauliflora), a plant indigenous to West Kalimantan, that can be used as a substitute for MSG flavoring in cooking, and that Sintang’s government has declared a potential export product. This designation means that there are great opportunities for producing and processing sengkubak. However, without proper land mapping it is difficult to access certain areas or know which land is prone to flooding, which can slow down or hurt production. Community groups can be of use in mapping issues such as these.
There is also a national policy on accelerating the affirmation of village boundaries which requires Indonesia’s 73,000 villages to solve their boundary issues by 2024. In response, SIS and the MADANI Learning Forum in Sintang (named FORSTAR) designed a local solution to accelerate land mapping. They started the process by looking at previous mapping processes, through which they learned about land identification and obtained old village classifications. Then, SIS organized a community-led geo-spatial mapping exercise in two pilot areas. This process has had several benefits. First, community members have a deep understanding of their local area and can provide valuable insights and information that may not be reflected in government maps. Community-based mapping also empowered local residents to take ownership of their geographic information. In the end, SIS and FORSTAR developed maps of the two villages that in mid-2023 were submitted to the local government for ratification.
To plan for future village development needs, SIS also mapped flood-prone communities with funding from Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center (MDMC) so that the local population can pick strategic positions for future settlements. These mapping exercises were all carried out in a participatory manner, in accordance with SIS’s efforts to strive for good village governance through a participatory process of mapping and village spatial planning.
Impressed with the results, in 2022, the Sintang Community Empowerment and Village Government Office (DPPMPD) issued a Circular Letter instructing all sub-districts in Sintang Regency to accelerate the village mapping process in their sub-districts adopting the proposed land-mapping approach. The existence of this circular letter further confirms that SIS’s work in the two villages in Sintang District was a contribution to regional development.
The circular letter allowed SIS to begin advocating for the replication of the pilot, and in November 2022, the Sintang DPPMD office facilitated SIS to carry out a District-level Workshop with all Village Heads in Sintang in an effort to apply the Participatory Mapping Design in other villages in Sintang District. The Sintang government provided funding for an additional eight villages in which SIS will support the replication of their model of mapping village boundaries. SIS also conducted and facilitated a workshop funded by the Sintang Development Planning Agency (BAPPEDA) on scaling up the application of the village boundary mapping model at the district level.
Lastly, in December 2023, the Regent of Sintang himself recognized the success of this activity, presenting awards to SIS and the Sintang Learning Forum FORSTAR during the 2023 CSR and CSO Awards evening. This year marks the fifth year that CSR Awards have been given to private sector representatives in Sintang who have contributed to supporting sustainable development plans. The CSO Awards, which were presented for the first time this year, were proposed by the Sintang government as a result of its fruitful collaboration with MADANI. SIS was presented an award in the category of Governance, Environment, and Economic Development, while the FORSTAR Forum was recognized in the field of Collaborative Governance.