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Community Service Study, Bridging Indigenous Community and Local Government

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As the civitas academica, students have duties to perform a university’s three pledges (Tri Dharma). Community service program implemented at Konda District by Pendidikan Muhammadiyah University (Unimuda) of Sorong, West Papua, is deemed the manifestation of the pledges. The method of community service study (KPM) highlighting the learning freedom model was carried out on 6 September 2021.

KPM is one of the studies that provides learning experience to students to live among the indigenous community outside their campus. Students will have direct identification and cope with developmental challenges among the society. “There are 21 students of some departments and education programs deployed to some villages in Konda District, South Sorong, to provide assistances to the locals for a month,” said Rustamadji, the Unimuda rector.

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There are five villages in the district, namely Bariat, Konda, Wamargege, Nakna, and Manelek, as the target of KPM. These areas were formerly parts of the palm oil estate concessions. Previously, West Papua Governor had conducted a license review of palm oil plantation from September 2018 up through to February 2021. Technically, the license review was done by West Papua’s Food, Horticulture and Plantation Office (TPHBun) in collaboration with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The collaboration is an effective synergy as KPK is mandated for an initiative of National Movement to Save Natural Resources (GNP-SDA). 

There are 24 companies acquiring concessions for about 650,000-hectare plots of land. However, only 70,000 hectares are planted and merely 17,000 hectares have paid taxes. The violation forced West Papua government to call the regents to revoke those licenses. There are about 350,000 hectares of licensed concessions that were eventually revoked, including those in Konda District.

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The provincial government urged the indigenous community to manage natural resources in the former palm oil concessions. To enforce the community-based management, it requires mapping of customary land on the former concessions areas. “The Government of West Papua commits to hand back the former concession areas to indigenous community immediately. The scheme of giving back should go along with the will of the indigenous peoples which requires cooperation among stakeholders such as government, NGOs, and even University,” said Dominggus Mandacan, the Governor of West Papua, on a coordination meeting on the Action Plan of Palm Oil Plantation License Review on 3 June 2021 at the Governor’s Meeting Room.

The KPM activity is expected to contribute to the acceleration of giving back the former concession areas to the indigenous community. The arranged action plan should produce information that helps ease the need for an Indigenous People Establishment Proposal document. 

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Unimuda challenged the students to develop an innovation for the community. It is intended to support the local activities and management of natural resources while considering social, economy, institutional and environmental aspects. With the KPM program, the students might serve as the information bridge and extension among the indigenous community and local government for equal and sustainable management of natural resources.

Editor: Leo Wahyudi, Rina Kusuma, Darkono

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EcoNusa Foundation
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Copyright ©2021.
EcoNusa Foundation
All Rights Reserved