Aiming to prevent land conflict with village maps
Geared with a GPS (Global Positioning System), three village communities in the Sambas Regency, West Kalimantan created their village maps. By creating maps, they wanted to prevent land conflicts and avoid the threat of land claiming. Three villages are Lela, Tri Mandayan, and Sebagu in Teluk Keramat Subdistrict, Sambas. “Why should (we) create a map? Because there are the threat of land conflicts between member of communities, between villages, and threats from the outside, the entry of the palm oil companies to Lela. We are concerned about these threats” said Iskandar, a member of the Lela Village Mapping Team in Sebagu Village, Sambas.
All this time, said Iskandar, Lela has never had a detailed map of the village that includes region border. As a result, boundaries near neighbouring villages were still unclear and only based on each other claims. Thus, land conflicts between Lela villagers with neighboring villages could occur at any time. “I experienced it when I was about to clear the forest for rubber plantation,” he said.
Iskandar told, a few years ago, he cleared a forest land for rubber plantation on the border of Lela Village. He started to clear the land from shrubs and small trees. However, a few days later a man came to claim the land and stated that the land was not included in Lela Village region. “It didn’t end with physical violence, only some arguments, “he said.
Departing from similar experiences shared by other villagers, as well as concerns of the threat of land claiming by the palm oil company that wanted to enter the village that time, the community agreed to create their village map. Mapping began in June 2011 accompanied by Wahana Visi Indonesia (WVI) Sambas. Preparation of maps was done with methods of participatory, involving Lela community participation.
“This participatory mapping activities is one of the SOLVE (Strengthening Livelihoods and Reduce Local Vulnerability) programs. The background was the land conflicts in some of our assisted villages. We focus this program in Lela village for the first time, then in Tri Mandayan village and replicated in Sebagu, “said Lina Lumbanraja, Coordinator of Economic Development Project WVI Sambas.
According to Iskandar, to draw up maps, they formed Team 10 consisting of 10 Lela villagers. This team received mapping basic technique training by Participatory Mapping Network (JKPP), one of WVI’s partner. They were taught to measure the coordinates using GPS then turned the coordinates into an image map. “Some were tasked to operate the GPS, the others were in charge to record the GPS data,” he said.
After mastering the use of GPS, Team 10 was divided into two groups work towards border village. It took five days to tour the border of Lela village. Team had to go in and out of the forest and villagers’ fields to record the coordinates of the border. “Based on GPS data, we drew the map on millimeters block paper and then copied it onto the tracing paper,” said Iskandar.
Lela’s region map was drawn simply on a sheet of tracing paper. Villagers drew it by hand, no computerization. Although the finished the village maps, there was one important hurdle, that is the boundaries have not been approved by the neighboring villages, like Sungai Kumpai, Puringan, Pedada, and Berlimbang in Teluk Keramat subdistricts and Jawai sub-district. “Although there is yet approval from neighbouring villages, but now there’s alsmost no land conflict. They know we have the village map, “he said.
Learning from the Lela village experience, Tri Mandayan communities followed suit in creating their village map. Pardi, Leader of Tri Mandayan Village Mapping Field Team said, mapping team was also trained by JKPP and accompanied by WVI Sambas. “To get the village boundaries coordinates, we slept in the jungle for 10 days, because Tri Mandayan has vast forest, “he explained.
In the thick forests, sometimes satellite signals went weak. Team members had tot climb the tree several times to ensure GPS get a strong signal, to ensure the accuracy of the data.” For 18 days we collected the data from the GPS,” he said. Learning from the weakness of Lela village, Tri Mandayan village formed negotiating team. The task of negotiation team was to have agreement with the neighboring villages about the borders. Unfortunately the negotiation team which comprised of some community leaders did not move as fast as the mapping team field.
As a result, after the Tri Mandayan village map was finished, the village border had not been agreed yet by the neighbouring villages, namely Semata Village, Sub-District Tangaran; Pedada and Sekura Village, Teluk Keramat Sub-District. “We are hampered by the map validation, because there is no agreement,” he said.
In Sebagu the mapping ran more smoothly. Negotiating team moved ahead of team field. After the village boundaries agreed with neighbor villages, like Tanjung Keracut Village, Teluk Keramat Subdistrict; Piantus village and Sekuduk, Sejangkung Subdistrict; and Tri Kembang Village, Galing Subdistrict, the field team worked with borrowed GPS from WVI. “There is no problem. Once the map was completed, the validation was done by the head of Piantus Village, Sekuduk, Tanjung Keracut, Tri Kembang and the subdistrict government,” said Basuni, former head of Sebagu Village.
Once approved at the Teluk Keramat Subdistrict level, Sebagu map was submitted to the Governance Department of Sambas for approval. However, since the 2013 up to now Sambas Goverment has not yet approved the map made through active participation of the villagers.
According to Basuni, Sambas Goverment wants to match it first with Sambas region map. Though they have to undergo several hurdles, Sebagu, Tri Mandayan, and Lela communities now feel relieved and proud. Now they know the exact boundaries of their village. With the village map, the land conflicts between communities have been prevented successfully.
“For the people, the problem of land conflicts nowadays is zero,” said Safirudin, villager and also member of Sebagu Village Mapping Team.
Villagers gather to assist the GPS mapping project.