Tinamitra Mandiri (TM) established a water business jointly with the Papagarang Island community. Solar energy is used to produce drinking water and ice blocks from sea water. The main beneficiaries are the local fishing communities and the tourism industry.
What is the social and/or ecological challenge?
The Papagarang Island communities mainly depend on fishing and have been living with scarce access to freshwater even as the tourism industry in the area is growing. Moreover, living with-in the Komodo National Park perimeter has limited their fishing activities and requires them to go farther offshore than before. Freshwater and energy shortages discourage them from acquiring refrigeration systems, forcing them to sell more than 50% of their catches of saltwater fish at significantly lower prices on the market. Currently, water and ice pack supplies are brought from Labuan Bajo, two hours away by boat. The ice cubes are packed in plastic bags, which causes severe ocean pollution. Diesel generators are the most common technology used to provide electricity in the National Park and its surroundings, and their noise and gas emissions are harmful to the natural ecosystem.
The social entrepreneurial approach
TM’s value proposition is to be the exclusive provider of ice blocks and freshwater for the fishing communities living in the Komodo National Park area on Papagarang and other surrounding small islands, using solar powered systems. TM’s ice blocks last longer and are not wrapped in plastic, unlike the ice currently supplied from Labuan Bajo. The growing tourism industry will drive more demand for fresh fish. Ice blocks allow the fishers to go farther to meet this demand without having to worry about keeping their catches fresh. Moreover, the availability of affordable ice blocks will mitigate the risk of overfishing in the surrounding waters of Komodo National Park. And the supply of desalinated freshwater will allow local communities to cook healthier food and improve sanitation. The Papagarang Island community has the option to buy stakes in the business to develop ownership. TM will develop an integrated community management programme for the villagers to manage the infrastructure, including having them establish an organisation of their own design to run the operation.
Goals and expected impact
In a first phase, the initiative aims to lift the economic and social condition of the more than 2 700 households in the fishing communities through the sustainable and affordable supply of safe freshwater and ice blocks. Local fishermen will be able to increase their income by supplying more fresh fish in the growing market. Local villagers will receive technical, operational and managerial skills training for employment by Komodo Water or to empower community development and micro-entrepreneurship.