IMG_2698Project in Sumba Island — East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

  • Agricultural training, using resources available in Sumba
  • Training organic farming groups
  • Construction and maintenance of water supply and irrigation system
  • Tree planting


Sumba is an island in Indonesia, located about 1,500 km east of Jakarta, the capital, on Java.  The island is also known for its “Cendana,” a rich sandalwood forest of parasitic trees inhabit in Indonesia and Malaysia, having unique insect repelling fragrant characteristic, frequently used for many wooden furniture materials.  However this “Sandalwood Island” is disappearing in recent years as a result of El Nino, excessive logging, livestock grazing, and slash-and-burn farming.  It is said that approximately 4,000 square kilometers of forest disappeared in the past 70 years.  Water resource, soil nutrition, logs, edible plants, medical herbs and plants also used as materials of traditional textiles are nearly gone, affecting huge village income.  This serious impact for Sumbanese needed a way to make their living more better.

LIFE had started a Sumba tree-planting project since 1998. We had chosen to plant timbers or fruits that grow quickly enough to make farmers for their instant income.  With very limited amount of village income, we have also brought in know-hows of organic farming using farmyard manure.


LIFE also started farm training and providing water irrigation maintenance technology at east Sumba since 2014.
Before, vegetable farming was extremely difficult due to the limited rainy season.  Without water supply system, 3 months of limited rainy season could only make potatoes, corn, and peanut for their own.  Surprisingly, within those 3 months, farmers were also forced to harvest food resource so that they would not starve themselves until the next rainy season, equals to 8 months later.

LIFE studied village environment and judged farmers need instant income thru their farming, making channels to the market on a regular basis so that they can make their living better.

Implementing water supply system was however, very challenging.  The river flows near the ocean level but houses are built at the flat space, mostly at top of hills.  Bringing water from the bottom to the flat space wasn’t an easy project. However, everyone put a lot of effort and did not give up because they firmly believed that increasing farming region and cutting down physical labor will result in using more time concentrating of farming, not using their valuable time on bringing water resource spending huge hours from the ocean level to top of hills.

Today, Water supply management is still ongoing, mainly maintained by local people.

Projects currently being implemented

①Organic farming training in Mondu Lambi village, from April 2018 to March 2019
 Village people not having opportunities to gain income learn how to grow vegetables by using plants in the village and dung of barn animals.
The village is located in the place where we can reach by three hours driving from Waingapu town each way. It’s very far from the closet town. Staffs of Radio Max FM, the local cooperating NGO, live in the village and implement training of growing vegetables to the village people.

Addition to that, water supply facilities have been built. Until now, they don’t have knowledge about vegetable growing and using water is difficult for them. Our goal is to enable them to live on their foot as a vegetable farmer after the training.

②Tree planting project for mangrove at Padadita Beach , from January 2017 to present
 Padaita Beach was mangrove over 20 years ago. Mangrove has the effect of making land fertile and it enables fish to live there. Mangrove also protect people from disaster of TSUNANI. But people not having such knowledge had cut mangrove at Padadita Beach. We implement the project to restore mangrove like before by tree planting. Many local people also support our activity by joining tree planting. By picking up trash on a regular basis, the beach is kept clean and protected by local people. Though not on a regular basis, we hold “tree planting work camp” which Japanese can join.

③Providing schoolbags to students of elementary school in east Sumba, April 2017 to present
 People living in rural parts of Sumba Island have few opportunities to gain cash income. For example, income of corn farmer is about JPY 5,000, equivalent to USD 46.00, per year. That of people living by taking nuts is about JPY 8,000 , equivalent to USD 70.00, per year. Cash for education receives low priority because a tiny amount of cash is used preferentially for buying daily goods and to having medical care. Addition to that, elementary school students have to go to a school by climbing up hills and descending valleys because Sumba Island is the hilly district where there are huge uphills and downhills. Some students have to walk about 10km to the school each way. We provide schoolbags to elementary school students living in rural parts of the island because we believe that it is important to make their daily way to school safe and to support their graduation from the elementary school and that it will bring them hopeful future.

④Providing pens and notebooks to children in East Sumba prefecture
 People living in rural parts of Sumba Island have few opportunities to gain cash income. Providing pens and notebooks to children in East Sumba Prefecture, from 2017 and ended. Children are not given school supplies necessary to study in a school by their parents due to issue of money and they cannot find the purpose of study. As a result, they leave a school. It is one of the reasons they cannot escape poverty. Our aim is to motivate them to study and to improve their understanding of study by the possession of their own pens and notebooks.

※The campaign of collecting pens and notebooks ended. Providing collected school supplies is being conducted now.

Main Project conducted in Sumba Island

 of Organic Agriculture

 The eastern area of Sumba Island is improper for agriculture because the amount of rainfall is small and water supply facilities are not built. So people living in this area grow and reap corns, potatoes and peanuts during about 3 months rainy season. These crops become one year food for them to live. The amount of crops is limited and it is only for their own food. So they have to live under poverty with no cash income. LIFE supports introduction(?) of building water supply systems and growing vegetables. But they can’t afford agricultural chemicals and fertilizers due to no income. So we introduced sustainable organic farming method by using dung of barn animals and plants existing in daily life. After finishing training, village people can grow vegetables by using water drawn by river whole year. So they no longer have to depend on rain for their farming.

②Building water supply systems
 Water is necessary to grow vegetables. LIFE implements training of organic farming and building water supply facilities in a package. Houses are built at the flat space, mostly at top of hills because Sumba Island is the hilly district and rivers flow in the low altitude between hills. So they have to pump up water by several kilo meters to draw water from rivers. Previously, they had to walk with buckets and tanks to bring water to the village and it prevented them from growing vegetables that need a lot of water. We support them to eliminate issue of water and to implement farming continuously.

③Tree planting for mangrove
 Mangrove has the effect of making land fertile and it creates the coast being attractive for fish to live there. In recent years, mangrove in Sumba island is decreasing due to cut by local people and extremely high temperature caused by abnormal weather. We implement the project to regain previous natural environment by tree planging and we believe that it will improve the standard of living of the people living near the coasts.


Gallery of pfoject in Indonesia