Sumedang, Indonesia, March, 20, 2015 – In February 2015, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court annulled the 2004 Water Resources Law, thus providing state agencies more authority over water resources. That means community-owned enterprises managing water resources at the village level – locally known as Bumdes – may become more prominent in water management in coming years.
Transforming informal village enterprises into established Bumdes
While these developments provide opportunity to many Bumdes, they also present challenges. Many Bumdes are not effectively managed or remain informal organizations, without formal authority or formal financial structures.
“Currently, not all of these village-owned business entities are institutionally and financially sound,” said Subagio, head of Sumedang District’s regional planning agency.
To address these capacity-building challenges, Mitra Prima, a partner of the World Bank Group’s Water and Sanitation Program, started an initiative to help these community-based organizations build their skills. In collaboration with local government agencies, Mitra Prima helps transform the Bumdes by helping them boost competencies in governance, technical and managerial capacity, and financial management.
So far, the program has helped 26 community-based water organizations in West Java connect with rural development banks and obtain loans. This has helped the Bumdes increase and expand coverage of clean water supply for their communities.
Ensuring clean water distribution in villages
Life was much worse before the establishment of the Bumdes. Villagers in many areas of Sumedang had to fetch unsafe water from wells and nearby rivers for bathing, cooking and drinking.
Nurbaiti, a housewife living in Bongas Subdistrict, remembers the illnesses her family endured. “We used to rely on shallow wells and the streams for our bathing and drinking needs. It caused our family to suffer frequent diarrhea and skin infections,” said Nurbaiti, who adds that her family now gets sick much less often.