FEATURE STORY

I'd Like You To Know: Sudirman's Story

October 20, 2015

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For the past 16 years, the coral reef ecosystem has been protected and rehabilitated to achieve sustainable use through a multi-donor biodiversity initiative—Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Project (COREMAP). Through COREMAP, communities receive incentives, training and resources to protect the coral reefs. The result has been a sea change in attitude and practices. In Waha Village in Wakatobi, marine tourism operator Sudirman and food vendor Ibu Jaurana are experiencing first-hand what conserving the coral reefs means for their lives.

My name is Sudirman and I am 50 years old. My wife and I have three children. I have a tourism business; we offer diving and snorkeling facilities. I also have a boat that takes tourists to the diving and snorkeling site, which is quite far. The boat has a glass bottom so people can enjoy the coral reefs without getting wet.

When there are lots of tourists I can earn about Rp 5 million (about $450) a day. When there are only few tourists, I earn only Rp 100,000 to Rp 200,000 a day ($10-20).

Before I got involved in this activity, I spent my days cleaning up the areas around the beach and preparing the diving facilities for customers. I would sweep and clean.

When there are no tourists, I visit my neighbors to help them understand about our concern for conservation, so that our environment is well protected and preserved.

Before the COREMAP program started, I was not so fortunate. It was difficult to survive, because we live in a coastal area with only the sea as our source of livelihood. I looked for ways to survive, but it was hard. I took whatever job I could. But raising a family with three kids—who at the time were still little—was a huge challenge. It was like trying to plant a garden in a place that could not support any life.

When the COREMAP program ended, I decided that our conservation efforts should continue so I developed this idea for an ecotourism business. With ecotourism, we can continue conserving this area in a sustainable manner, so that it remains beautiful.

After my income improved, I could fulfill my duty to help develop this community. My friends and I in ecotourism gave 60 percent of our ecotourism business for supervision of the coastal areas, and for other activities that support conservation.

I now have a brick house. I used to have a very old motorcycle—now I have four new motorbikes. My son is a policeman and my daughter is in college in Makassar (South Sulawesi) studying nursing.

After COREMAP, my life really opened up. I gained knowledge in so many areas, and received training and experience. My life improved and so did my income. I could send my kids to school.


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Hopes for the Future


I hope that our business can continue to develop, that I can continue to support my family well, and that my children share my commitment to conservation. I hope that they realize that without conservation, we will not live well.

I used to think that the coral reefs were so destroyed and beyond hope. Now I see that they have improved so much. The numbers of tourists have increased, and everyone always comments about how beautiful the reefs are now.

I am so proud about the growth of these reefs. I am now convinced that through conservation, our activities in the sea will only improve in results, and that my grandchildren’s future will be assured. I am so confident of that.



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