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Improving lives in the mangroves


2019 - 2020

The village of Teluk Semanting (Semanting Bay) sits on the northeastern coast of Berau Regency in East Kalimantan, just a short distance from the world-renown diving sites of the Derawan Islands. Also known as Kampong Mangrove, the village is hemmed by over 716 hectares of mangroves which spans 22 kilometres along the bay. It harbours a wide array of species; including 12 species of mangroves, 55 species of birds, 27 species of mammals, and serves as a vital source of livelihood for the villagers. 


Here, Photovoices International started a 9-month program, in partnership with Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN), to gather the community's insights about life around the Mangroves, and how to protect the natural resources in their backyard. 



main issues were identified


villagers took part behind the camera


households were impacted


photographs were produced


photo stories were exhibited



Identifying Main Issues

The program facilitated community members, which consisted of community leaders, community livelihood groups, village government officers and others to come together and discuss the most important concerns facing the village. 6 main issues were identified: fisheries, clean water, eco-tourism, community plantations, community empowerment, and health. 

Fisheries and Mangrove Management Training

Fisheries and mangrove management are two of the major issues in the village. The participants realized that in order to participate in meaningful discussions about the issues, they need to better understand them. To meet this need, Photovoices International organized a two-day training with officials from the Berau Office of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, held in-class as well as in the field.

Fact-checking the Findings

As part of the participatory process, the participants reported back to the community in a one-day workshop, to update them on the progress with researching and photographing the issues, and more importantly to obtain feedback from the wider community. For the participants, this was the first time that they presented in a public forum.

Presenting the Findings

At the end of the project, the participants presented their findings back to the community in a one-day workshop. It included interviews with various members of the community, as well as comprehensive storytelling and photography presentations. The participants' advocacy on the issues to the Regent and senior officials of Berau was very well received, seen as a model of grassroots evidence-based input on policy and decision-making. 


After the community presentation, the Berau Regency government made several improvements to solve the issues identified by the community. Unfortunantely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some commitments have been put on hold.

  • The government installed water tanks and have started to build piping systems to provide clean water access for 86 households in 2 village hamlets. 

  • Two community-based health cadres were appointed to support families in the treatment and prevention of malnutrition, especially for stunting problems. The village government has also allocated provision of monthly funds to families with malnourished children. 

  • Training programs to train fish and prawn farmers on restoring and managing existing saltwater ponds, including replanting mangroves are planned. 

  • The Berau Office for Marine Affairs and Fisheries is working together with the Teluk Semanting village to determine a zoning system for the village's mangrove forest, following zoning recommendations by the Village. 

  • To solve environment issues created by the use of trawl boats in Berau's coastal areas, the regional representative council decided to work with the East Kalimantan Marine Affairs and Fisheries Regional Office in conducting a joint marine patrol with Tarakan regent, where most of the trawl boats originated from. 

  • Following up on some of the issue, the village government provided new uniforms for traditional dance groups and improved the village's volleyball court, where most gather everyday. 

  • The village government made a commitment to financially support Potret Community, a newly-established community group which consisted of Photovoices participants and additional community members, to continue the work and initiatives developed during the photovoices program. 



Teluk Semanting Village Government

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