Natural Resources, 2011, 2, 114-124
doi:10.4236/nr.2011.22016 Published Online June 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
Farmer Water Management Strategies for Dry
Season Water Shortages in Central Lombok,
John Klock1, Taslim Sjah2
1Linn-Benton Community College, Albany, Oregon, USA; 2University of Mataram, Mataram, Indonesia.
Received January 30th, 2011; revised March 27th, 2011; accepted April 7th, 2011.
This paper examines how farmers in central Lombok have organized themselves to manage agricultural water colle-
ctively and to adapt to seasonally dry conditions. We interviewed eighteen village heads from October to December
2006. One of our questions we posed prior to field interviews was what might be the social and technical coping strate-
gies that have allowed farmers to survive the lengthy dry seasons under the high population d ensity of Lombok island.
Some examples of organizational structure an d p ractices in Central Lombok are presented. There were several common
water management strategies that were revealed from these interviews including: methods of organization, flexible
cropping systems, water allocation mechanisms, methods of compromise, alternative payments, and traditional water
management practices. The statistical analysis comparing village characteristics and coping strategies suggests a rela-
tion between mosque number per village and farmers ability to cope. Farmers have shown their own unique coping
strategies in times of water shortages and under decentralization occurring over the past decade. This decentralization
involved turning over small scale irrigation systems (under 500 hectares), to the water user associations themselves in
order to facilitate more efficient management and maintenance.
Keywords: Water User Associations, Subak, In-Kind Payments, Critical Dry Lands, Coping Strategies, Adaptation,
Cropping Systems
1. Introduction
Water management is a major concern in Indonesia
where state support of rice-based agriculture has been
dominant for decades. Key to the success of rice produc-
tion are water user associations (WUAs) who perform a
critical role in negotiating with government bureaucra-
cies and organizing agricultural water flows to farmers.
Water shortages are chronic throughout many parts of
Indonesia including Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara
Province [1]. With greater frequency and intensity, the
dry periods, prior to the first planting season, are be-
coming longer and less predictable most likely due to
climate change and periodic El Nino events [2]. In 1966,
10,000 to 50,000 people died of famine on the island
from crop failure brought about by drought. Famines are
also recorded by the Dutch in the years 1894, 1927-1928,
1937-1938, 1939-1949, 1946-1947, 1956-1957, 1964-
1966, 1968-1969, 1972-1973, and 1976-1977 [1].
Lombok is one of the most densely populated islands
in Indonesia and central and Eastern Lombok is prone to
drought. One question posed by the authors prior to field
interviews was what might be some social and technical
coping strategies that have allowed farmers to survive
the lengthy dry seasons and drought periods and under
high population densities? Some examples of organiza-
tional structure and practices in central Lombok are pre-
sented along with a general overview of water manage-
ment in Lombok and Indonesia.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Methodology
The authors visited eighteen villages and interviewed
eighteen kepala desa (village heads) in a sub-watershed
at elevations ranging from sea level to 450 meters. Out of
the 18 villages, 14 were analyzed statistically in this
study for specific characteristics that might influence
village adaptations as related to physical and socio-cul-
tural institutions of the village. Climate variations and
Farmer Water Management Strategies for Dry Season Water Shortages in Central Lombok, Indonesia
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
proximity to springs vary dramatically in central Lombok
hence we chose a transect of villages for interviews,
from sea level to 450 meters, to account for these differ-
ences. Analyzing villages by specific physical and insti-
tutional characteristics allowed for a comparison of water
management strategies among villages with similar water
The authors’ interviews were semi-structured and took
place over three months from October to December 2006.
The authors asked fifteen to twenty questions pertaining
to water use, management, conflict resolution, and sur-
vival mechanisms under water duress. The interviews
were structured to authenticate specific answers in other
villages. For example, village heads were asked ques-
tions about water management or infrastructure to verify
information discussed in other villages.
Interview data from coping strategies was compared to
specific village characteristics including: population,
elevation, rainfall, village area, primary and secondary
water sources for agriculture, mosque number, mosque
number-land area ratio, and mosque number-population
ratio. These village characteristics were gathered through
the provincial statistical handbook [3] and via a GIS data
set for Nusa Tenggara Barat [4].
Weighted scores were calculated for each sub-cate-
gory by taking the number of affirmative responses for a
specific coping strategy under a sub-category (ex. Vil-
lage water institutions) and dividing these by the number
of strategies in each sub-category for each village.1 A
multiple linear regression model was used to describe the
relationship between weighted scores and independent
variables (village characteristics) at the 95% confidence
Villages were not randomly chosen and this study uses
associations (not causations) of how coping strategies are
related to village characteristics. Weighted scores were
analyzed using scattered matrices that plotted independ-
ent and dependent variables (coping strategies). Eleva-
tion levels and precipitation numbers were given ordinal
classifications (1, 2, and 3) for low, medium, and higher
elevation respectively; as well as low precipitation, me-
dium, and high precipitation areas respectively. There
were two categories used here for water sources coded as
binary variables (well = 0, and spring = 1). The back-
ward elimination method used in this model with least
significant variables removed first. Finally, R-squared
was calculated to determine model fit and variability of
the weighted score.
1 (As an example, a particular village scored 18 affirmative responses
divided by 4 coping strategies = weighted score of 4.5) by village. This
weighted average for each village was calculated across all
2. 2 . Stu dy Area
Lombok has been a significant rice producing center in
Southeast Asia. This importance cannot be overlooked in
relationship to how farmers make the best use of their
land today. Lombok contains a rich mixture of ethnicities,
cultures, land policies, and colonial influences. Gelles
notes that irrigation cultures cannot be removed for study
from their “technical and economic properties, but
should be analyzed as socially, culturally, and histori-
cally situated” [5].
Lombok Island is in the province of West Nusa Teng-
gara and lies at a latitude of 8˚12' and 8˚55' South and a
longitude 115˚46' and 116˚28' East (Figures 1 and 2).
Lombok has an area of 4,619 km2 and spans 60 km by 80
km at its widest point. Located just at the Wallace line,
rainfall for Southern Lombok is noted at 948 mm and
1665 mm at 100 meters above sea level and 180 meters
above sea level respectively [6]. East Lombok gets
roughly 700 mm per year. The dry season is thus very
pronounced and lasts from July to October.
The population of Lombok has increased from 1.48
million in 1971 to 2.1 million in 1990 to around 2.9 mil-
lion people today [3]. With approximately 618 per-
sons/km2, Lombok has the highest population density in
the province. By contrast, Bali has a population density
of about 534 people per km2 residing on 5600 km2. In
Nusa Tenggara Barat province, 57% of households have
been classified as poor with the majority of the poor liv-
ing in rural areas. In Lombok there are from 895,300 to
925,000 people classified as poor [7,8]. Table 1 provides
select village data for Central Lombok that were used for
this study.
Islam and its impacts on agriculture are not well stud-
ied. Water is valued spiritually by all religions including
the roughly 2.6 million Muslims and 115,000 Balinese
Hindus on Lombok. Muslim water law in Indonesia, es-
tablishes a fundamental duty to preserve and share water
based on a priority of need [9]. Specifically, water is
prioritized according to Islamic law as follows: right of
thirst, domestic use including water for animals, irriga-
tion, and lastly commercial and industrial uses [10].
Waste of water is forbidden in Islamic edicts and as a
social justice concern, water equity is fundamental, al-
ways shared, and never horded. Further, water is a “gift
from God” and can never be owned although ownership
of water holding structures is possible.
Lombok has a strong tradition of dry land and wetland
agriculture. Farm size averages about 0.47 ha. per house-
hold [11]. Rainfed agriculture involves capturing rainfall
in catchment reservoirs (embung) and transferring water
to fields or with rainfall caught directly in bunds. The
gogorancah is a rice cultivation system for dry land ag-
Farmer Water Management Strategies for Dry Season Water Shortages in Central Lombok, Indonesia
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
Figure 1. Map of Indonesia and Lombok.
riculture. In this system, rice is dry seeded in non-pud-
dled fields. Introduced in 1980, this technology is more
prominent in Central and Southern Lombok, as it is suit-
-able to drier conditions. Dry seeding takes place after
two or three rainfall events. Following rice harvests of
either one or two croppings, secondary crops (palawija)
are planted including maize, cassava, capsicum peppers,
soybeans, peanuts, sweet potato, mung beans, and to-
bacco. Farmers on Lombok produce high quality Virgina
tobacco that is sold to the large cigarette companies op-
erating in Indonesia [1].
Like the rest of the country, Lombok utilizes about
80% of its water for crops [12]. Rice production in Nusa
Tenggara Barat has increased in both area and yield over
the past 50 years. Similarly, the population in the prov-
ince has also increased. These two factors, rice area in-
crease, and human population increase, are major con-
tributors to the current water stresses that are found in
Nusa Tenggara Barat.
3. Conceptualizing Coping
Agricultural coping strategies are diverse and involve
calculations related to risk, management, and livelihood.
Coping as proposed by Endler and Parker has three
widely recognized dimensions: problem-focused coping;
emotion-focused; and avoidance coping [13]. For our
study, the authors use the terms “farmer adaptations” and
“agricultural coping strategies” interchangeably and
broadly. Both are defined here as meaning: “to contend
with, or adjust to” a water shortage situation. Hence, for
the purpose of this study, a coping strategy could involve
problem-solving (technical, cropping, water allocation,
payments, others) emotion-focused (discussions, sympa-
thy, understanding with village heads, water-user and
other groups and institutions) and avoidance (confronta-
tion avoidance, saving face, religion). Resilience theory
Farmer Water Management Strategies for Dry Season Water Shortages in Central Lombok, Indonesia
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
Figure 2. Map of Lombok and study area.
invokes a view of multiple states of a system; some goal
of a desirable state; and the thresholds or boundaries of a
system state. Related to this concept is adaptability
which is the capacity of actors to impact the resilience of
the system. The resilience of a community institution,
like a water user association, is linked to such variables
like water governance changes, access, population in-
crease, urbanization, watershed damage, and climate
change. Adaptation in relationship to resilience is the
maintenance of a responsive capacity. As an example, a
drought in Kenya might require a transformative action
by farmers of selling assets while sources of resilience
might include social networks and remittances [14].
The village heads interviewed suggested many means
to addressing agricultural water shortages. Village lead-
ers were interviewed because they can provide fairly
concise explanations of local water issues, are often far-
mers themselves, and as leaders are under pressure to
Farmer Water Management Strategies for Dry Season Water Shortages in Central Lombok, Indonesia
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
Table 1. Select village characteristics.
Village Name Population Elevation
Rainfall in
Hall #
1. Pengembur 11231 0 – 100 1000 47870well well 41
2. Kateng 10699 0 – 100 1000 2234 well river/lake 41
3. Dasan Baru 7951 0 – 100 1000 5340 well well 20
4. Rembitan 4983 0 – 100 1000 14750well well 34
5. Kuta 5649 0 – 100 1000 12700well well 12
6. Dharmaji 6402 101 – 2501000 – 15004400 well well 2
7. Montong
Terep 9056 101 – 2501000 – 15004880 well river/lake 52
8. Muncan 8373 101 – 2501000 – 15004700 well well 29
9. Jontlak 5962 101 – 2501000 – 15007760 well well 47
10. Beraim 5366 101 – 2501000 – 15008390 well well 35
11. Perina 2595 101 – 2501000 – 15002887 well well 10
12. Teratak 11834 >251 >1500 13062spring spring 43
13. Aik Bukaq 11531 >251 >1500 12774spring spring 45
14. Aik Beriq 14889 >251 >1500 14832spring spring 58
secure resources (information, charity, extension, or gov-
ernment involvement) for constituent farmers.
Sustainability implies keeping harvest rates of renew-
ables equal to regeneration rates. The sustainable use of
water during seasonal shortages and drought is critical
for family survival and may involve several measures
such as: farmer preparedness; changes in water allocation
and delivery; farmer adaptation and coping to reduced
demand; and income support [15]. In over 400 villages in
Northern China, farmers adopted water saving technol-
ogy as a result of severe water shortages from dropping
water tables and chronic drought [16]. Blanke and col-
leagues documented three groups of technical water sav-
ing strategies: traditional (border and furrow irrigation
techniques); household (drought resistant varieties, plas-
tic sheeting, and low till-stubble plowing, and vil-
lage-based (canal lining and underground piping).
Farmer coping strategies take on several forms and
involve diverse aspects of farmer behavior, risk man-
agement, and livelihood selection. Ding constructs two
types of rice farmer coping strategies, ex ante and ex post
[17]. Ex ante coping involves risk reduction prior to the
production shortfall including spatial diversification of
farms, diversification of agricultural enterprises, and
changes from farm to off-farm activities. Ex post are
coping strategies included migration, loans, asset liquid-
dation, and reliance on charity. Internationally, in many
developing countries, the infrastructure for measured and
restrained water delivery is not available [18]. In cases
where water infrastructure is present, it is often managed
from the top-down and gives farmers little flexibility and
few options for coping with water shortages [19].
Psychological coping is defined as a conscious re-
sponse to external stressful or negative situations [13].
Many interdisciplinary studies on environmental degra-
dation now take behavior into account. As Haaften et al.
point out, farmers who experience high levels of psy-
chological distress are unlikely to show behaviors that
halt environmental degradation [20]. Psychological re-
silience is influenced by stress, depression, and margin-
alization [20]. Conversely, successful natural resource
management addresses the psychological stressors af-
fecting humans in order to achieve cooperation on envi-
ronmental restoration.
4. Factors Contrib u ting to Water S hortages
4.1. Water User Associations
How farmers organize themselves to manage water and
how the government manages water user associations
(WUAs) ultimately have big impacts on whether farmers
Farmer Water Management Strategies for Dry Season Water Shortages in Central Lombok, Indonesia
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
have the flexibility to deal with periods of drought. It is
important to analyze water governance and allocation in
the context of farmer coping mechanisms. Many re-
searchers have examined WUAs in Indonesia and their
impacts on farmers, community structure, and poverty
Since the 1980s, the government has made irrigation
development a priority in order to achieve self-suffi-
ciency in rice [22]. The government strategy in irrigation
was multi-faceted including: targets for physical devel-
opment; engineering-based design and management;
uniform models and functionality across the country; and
a centrist approach guided by the national government.
Through these efforts there were four million ha. of irri-
gated rice by 1990 [22]. While the country achieved rice
self-sufficiency, these measures did not necessarily im-
prove the welfare of farmers. The priority of the gov-
ernment is now to strengthen the capability of WUAs
and WUA federations so that they can play an effective
role in water governance, water distribution and assume
complete responsibility for tertiary projects in both op-
eration and maintenance [24].
Starting in 1984, the government of Indonesia wisely
recognized that small-scale irrigation systems (less than
500 ha. needed to be turned over to WUAs in order to
provide for operation and maintenance. As a whole, irri-
gation maintenance has been continuously deferred due
to budget constraints. Currently, the World Water Coun-
cil [12] reports that about 50% of irrigation schemes re-
quire heavy maintenance and rehabilitation in Indonesia.
At this time massive investment is needed in irrigation
infrastructure across the country but only Rp. 350 billion
(US $ 40 million) is allocated annually for operation and
maintenance of public irrigation schemes by the Indone-
sian government. In budgetary terms, only 15% to 40%
of the operation and maintenance funds for irrigation,
given as a block grant to the provinces, are actually used
for repairs. Local and provincial corruption, approaching
30%, must also be factored.
Roth [21] noted that farmers are somewhat passive
about irrigation in Ketoraharjo, Sulawesi, Indonesia. As
one government official noted there, farmers have been
“pampered” by the government. They have been the be-
neficiaries of land, irrigation systems, and abundant
WUA trainings. Still farmers do not attend WUA meet-
ings or perform collective labor. Lack of participation
could relate to the top-down irrigation development that
the government has promoted for decades. Roth further
notes that many tertiary units have serious maintenance
problems in Ketorahnarjo.
4.2. Lombok WUAs
The farmers of Lombok manage their irrigation water
management through the PPPA (Perhimpunan Petani
Pemakai Air) WUAs. The PPPA are an offshoot of a
1990s government policy to turnover irrigation infra-
structure to local communities via the WUAs. The PPPA
are a relatively new but cooperative irrigation manage-
ment in the form of subak that has been present in Lom-
bok for some time. These traditional management struc-
tures were subverted across Indonesia starting in 1965,
by the Suharto regime’s implementation of uniform or-
ganizational codes. The WUA and PPPA have replaced
the traditional subak [8]. Seventeen of the nineteen vil-
lages surveyed in this study had PPPA organizations.
The two villages without a PPPA organization did not
have enough water to manage via the PPPA.
The Lombok irrigation culture was adopted from the
Balinese suba k system via Balinese control and conquest
[25]. Many farmers describe their water user group as a
subak in Lombok, but in practice, the subak in Lombok
are in name only and have little of the accouterments or
elements found in Bali (Sayuti 2004). Human organiza-
tion of subaks in Bali, is due partly to the need for human
manpower to address the shortage of water, coordinate
pest removal in fields, and to prevent flooding [26]. The
farmers in Bali are organized into irrigation societies, in
which each society has a religious head and is composed
of 50 to 400 farmers, groups called subak [26-28].
Schoenfelder describes a scenario in which the Balinese
began to organize themselves when the density of rice
terraces became too great [26].
4.3. Payments for Water
Water user association payments are important for long-
term sustainability of WUAs but are problematic for
poor farmers. Agricultural water studies indicate that the
price paid for irrigation water in Lombok has been un-
dervalued [29]. Our interviews completed in central
Lombok confirm that the payment system for water was
mostly based on in-kind payments called suwinih. Su-
winih payments from farmer to pekasih (canal manager)
for water varied but ranged from 10,000 - 30,000 rupiah
(US $1.00 - US $3.00) per ha for rice and 300,000 rupiah
(US $35.00) per ha for tobacco. Payments for water took
place every cropping season or on a voluntary basis. The
WWF study noted that the irrigation fee requested of
farmers has been too low and not sufficient to pay the
operation and maintenance costs of the irrigation scheme
[29]. Rather the cost paid is mostly payment to the irri-
gation officers.
Local governments initially introduced IPAIR fees of
Rp 15,000 to 30,000 per year but most fees could not be
collected successfully. The ADB operations and evalua-
tion visit to Lombok in December of 1999 confirmed that
only 1 of the 13 schemes visited were collecting fees in
Farmer Water Management Strategies for Dry Season Water Shortages in Central Lombok, Indonesia
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
Lombok and elsewhere in West Nusa Tenggara [24]. The
ADB estimated that at least Rp 425,000 ($50 equiva-
lent)/ha. was needed per farmer per year for sustainable
operation and maintenance or irrigation structures oper-
ated by WUAs.
4.4. Village Level Concerns in Central Lombok
Among the many concerns expressed by kepala desa in
Central Lombok were the bribes or incentives needed to
obtain or maintain water supplies. Such rent-seeking
behavior was noted to take place between farmers and
pekasih, farmers and juru pintu air or juru air (water
gate manager and government employee under agency
Kimprasswill) and farmers and embung operators. Pay-
ments were more common during the critical second
cropping season when demand for water was highest.
Payments were also required to prevent theft of water,
such as one village where people were paid to watch key
irrigation canal junctions. It should be noted that illegal
or unnecessary payments for water were mentioned in
interviews in five of the nineteen villages surveyed.
Water storage facilities, particularly small village res-
ervoirs (embung) were noted to be in high demand. In
Java, reservoirs are shown to have a very good return on
investment [30]. Reservoir presence in rain-fed Southern
Lombok was seen as critical to farmer survival. Two
villages noted flooding as a problem during the rainy
season and one, notably Tumpak village was lacking
both reservoir storage capacity and also enduring sea-
sonal flooding.
In three villages, there was uneasiness over the appro-
priation of springs by the water utilities (PDAM) without
adequate compensation, notably Aik Bukaq, and Air Be-
Villagers expressed concern at the high price of gaso-
line (benzene) for pumping. Ranging from 20,000 to
30,000 rupiah ($2.50 to $3.50) per hour, farmers pumped
water from wells to fields via sumer bor (bore-hole
wells). Extension services appeared weak in the study
areas, especially for water-saving technologies like drip
irrigaton. Getting enough water therefore seemed to be
the sum of a combination of factors, but a big factor
noted in most village interviews was the need for good
relations among the stakeholders.
4.5 Watershed Degradation
Degraded watersheds have resulted in unstable river
flows. In Indonesia, there are 59 degraded river catch-
ments [12]. In Lombok, the Mount Rinjani catchment is
more accessible and perhaps in better condition than
others, but during the last twenty years, more than 400
springs have dried up on Mount Rinjani most likely from
deforestation [31].
5. Results and Discussion
The elevation and precipitation were confounded with
each other and as a result it was not possible to separate
the influences of rainfall or elevation on the coping
Using backward elimination in this model, the mosque
number and presence of wells turned out to be the most
significant (Table 2). Mosque hall number and well wa-
ter source were the most significant independent vari-
ables for this study. For each additional mosque, the
weighted score, for example would increase by 0.0457.
Well water as a primary source in a village versus a town
that did not have well water, showed a weighted score of
2.26. R-squared was calculated to determine model fit
and in this analysis, the model explained 60 percent of
the variability in the weighted score.
Presence of mosques and well water overall suggests
that more coping strategies might be available to farmers
during water shortages.
Mosque hall number and well water #1 were left in the
model as significant and from the weighted score, the
data suggests that.
Under the sub-category of village water institutions, of
which there were four coping strategies, mosque number
was again significant.
5.1. Common Strategies Observed for Water
There were several common water management strate-
gies that emerged from interviews. These included:
methods of organization, cropping systems, water alloca-
tion mechanisms, methods of compromise, payments,
and traditional water management practices (please see
Table 3).
The methods of organization found in villages in-
cluded relationships between pekasih and farmer, peka-
sih and juru air, PPPA and pekasih, PPPA and farmer.
The PPPA is really the body of compromise and negotia-
tion and its presence is necessary in the creation of the
Table 2.
Standard T
Parameter Estimate Error Statistic P-Value
CONSTANT 0.7255490.851202 0.852381 0.4122
mosque hall#0.04573050.0148186 3.08602 0.0104
well water12.26152 0.584839 3.86692 0.0026
Analysis of Variance
Source Sum of
Squares Df Mean
Square F-Ratio P-Value
Model 10.32242 5.16122 8.41 0.0061
Residual 6.7470111 0.613365
Total (Corr.)17.069413
R-squared = 60.4732%
R-squared (adjusted for d.f.) = 53.2865%
Farmer Water Management Strategies for Dry Season Water Shortages in Central Lombok, Indonesia
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
Table 3. Farmer coping categories and strategies in central
Categories Strategies Characteristics
Village Institu-
+Baden musyawarah
+ Pekaseh
+Village head and coun-
+Functional water me-
diation body
+Compromise empha-
+Community support
+can implement fines,
effect ostracization
+ farmers may negotiate
water themselves by-
passing PPPA
Neighbor Prac-
+Village has water prior-
ity based on religious/
social grounds
+Cultural politeness/
avoids embarrassment
and a priority on getting
+Equality (everybody
gets equal amounts of
water even it it is little or
“It is up to God; God
will provide”
“Water is given by god”
Cropping sys-
l Practices
+Villages use two or
more cropping systems
per year
+Flexibility in farmer
cropping choices during
+traditional law
+traditional labor mobi-
+remnants of Hindu
irrigation structure
for Water
+bribes or individual
+IPAIR (formal water
+Fine for Theft
+flexible in-kind pay-
ments, often based on
crop type but can
change if crop failure
Actions against
illegal use
+ Allocation by height in
+alternating by rotation
(East to West and vice-
+Alternating by time
+Just enough for phy-
siological growth
+Allocation by means
of volume, time, rota-
tion, and plant physiol-
Water Stor-
+Embung-micro water
+Pumps water from
wells into fields
+Irrigation water from
+Irrigation water from
+Critical as rain-fed
irrigation source
for Ser-
+Village residents pro-
test water shortages to
the government
+Letters to government
water schedule in coordination with the pekasih. The
WUA or PPPA is supposed to represent the best interests
of the farmer and farmers in turn must trust the organiza-
tion in getting the best deal and accept the results. In
some cases, villages with several PPPA can form a union
and organize for better negotiation and delivery of water
with the Juru Air. The subak in Lombok are defined dif-
ferently than those in Bali. In Lombok, the subak is
equivalent to a farmer or a land area controlled by farm-
ers but has lost most of the sophistication and trappings
of subak societies found in Bali. The PPPA water user
associations pushed by the government appear to have
displaced the subak.
5.2. Allocation Methods
The were varied water allocation mechanisms found
among villages in central Lombok including: allocation
by height of water in paddock (anywhere from 5 to 10
cm); by giving just enough water to ensure rice or pala-
wija growth; by rotation: alternating from east to west, or
left to right; allocation by time such as two nights and
two days per every 5 ha.; and allocation by cropping
season: 1st season everyone gets abundant water; 2nd
season water is allocated by time; 3rd season allocated by
“just wet enough” saturated soil to allow plant growth. In
some water plentiful sites, farmers were known to nego-
tiate amongst themselves and bypass the PPPA alto-
5.3. Cropping Systems
Cropping systems noted in this study were adapted to
irrigation and irregular rainfall. Some of the patterns
noted here were: Padi-padi-palawija (rice-rice-non-rice
dryland crop); padi-palawija; padi-padi-padi; padi-to-
bacco and others. The flexibility of the cropping system
is essential for farmer survival. Dryland areas rarely had
more than one rice crop per year unless they had access
to a water source. Tobacco is a much planted cash crop
that commands a high price but requires high irrigation
water payments.
5.4. Social Coping Mechanisms
The art of compromise is considered an important theme
for water management in central Lombok. The baden
musyawarah is a type of community deliberation that can
be used to solve water disputes and form a compromise
with PPPA, Pekasih or even Juru Air especially in the
cases of the water schedule and method of allocation.
The payment system for water is based on in-kind pay-
ments called suwinih. Suwinih payments from farmer to
pekasih for water varied but ranged from 10,000 - 30,000
rupiah ($1.00 - $3.00) per ha for rice and 300,000 rupiah
($35.00) per ha for tobacco. Payments for water took
place every cropping season. As mentioned earlier, in-
centives (extra payments) were needed to get extra or
needed water as well as to maintain amicable and healthy
Farmer Water Management Strategies for Dry Season Water Shortages in Central Lombok, Indonesia
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
relationships between the parties.
5.5. Impact of Traditions and Beliefs
Several traditional water management practices are noted
here. Some villages have implemented awig-awig (tradi-
tional rule) for agricultural water use and penalties for
theft. The gotong royong (community help culture) was
still strong in all villages, and used for rice harvests,
planting and to keep irrigation facilities repaired. Islam
plays a dominant role in water shortage problem solving.
Muslim law prioritizes water for drinking and bathing
(purifying before prayer) first followed by animals, and
irrigation. Islam can serve as a spiritual coping strategy
to water stress.
Mosque and Hajj Nu mbers
From Table 4 the number of mosques in Lombok for
2005 was 2522. In 1974, the estimate was 1437 and for
the year 1930. Two methods were used to determine
mosque number. 1:25,000 scale topographic maps from
the Dutch colonial period were analyzed for the time
period from 1926 to 1931 (Government 1926-1931).
From these maps, 171 mosques were counted for West,
Central, and East Lombok. The mosque numbers reveal
an increase from 1900 to 2200 mosques over a 75 year
period from 1930 to 2005. The mosque growth rate on
Lombok plays a role in landscape modification. Mosque
placement and construction are related to the population
that can support the institution. Water is needed at the
entrance of a mosque for bathing to ensure ritual purity.
In Lombok, this source can come from a well, spring, or
piped water. The challenge in this research has been to
obtain a reasonably accurate figure for mosques for the
years 1930, 1975 and 2005. Tables 4 and 5 provide some
approximate mosque and hajji numbers and estimates for
the years 1930, 1975, and 2005. From Table 5, as the
number of hajji (Mecca pilgrims) have increased; they
may have an influence on the rise in mosque numbers,
but this relation was unclear.
The authors noted a strong moral component found in
Table 4. Mosque count.
Year Mosque Count Source Method
1930 Est. 171*, and
574** [33] Hand count, ex-
1974-1975 Est. 1437*** Extrapolation
2005 2522 [3] Govt. statistics
Table 5. Haji count.
Year Pilgrim Count Source Method
1930 426 **** Extrapolation
1974-1975 1040 (prov-
ince-wide) [32]
2005 2072 [3] Govt. statistics
village authority often involving religious organizations
that helped to maintain peace in the village. Islamic law
and local institutions can mete out fines for stealing wa-
ter, or in some rare cases, ostracizing individuals. Some
villages were noted to utilize what might be called an
“equitable suffering scenario” whereby all people in the
village would get by equally with little water in any one
season. In another scenario, most people would suffer
during the dry season but a few farmers have the ability
to pay for water. Other short-term or irregular mecha-
nisms included protest and petitioning to the water utili-
ties over questionable appropriation of springs.
5.6. Cooperation among Villages
From village interviews, two generalizations were used
to characterize villages. First, villages situated north of
the town of Praya and at higher elevations, had on the
whole, more water supplies than villages south of Praya.
Secondly, villages in wetter areas had greater inter-vil-
lage cooperation while villages in drier areas had greater
intra-village cooperation. The reasons for these condi-
tions were not clear, but it appeared that drier villages in
Southern Lombok were more autonomous and self-suf-
ficient possibly due to seasonally lower rainfalls, lack of
springs or access to other water supplies. Southern Lom-
bok villages did not have strong links with other villages,
presumably because there was not abundant water to
share. Water abundant villages had stronger cooperative
networks between neighboring villages because PPPA,
pekasih, and farmers in different villages had to coordi-
nate water flow between villages.
Water management at the village level varies accord-
ing to climate and type of agriculture supported, the
number of village reservoirs, whether villages are lucky
enough to get irrigation infrastructure from government
funding, and whether villages are fortunate enough to be
near a major dam (i.e. Batu Jai in central Lombok), river
or spring. Impounded water is used in Indonesia com-
monly for supplemental irrigation of the first rice crop
during the rainy season, and thereafter for watering the
second crop in the dry season [30]. Reservoirs are filled
by direct rainfall which often constitutes about 1/3 of
inflows with another 2/3 filling the reservoir from runoff.
6. Conclusions
This paper has presented several means by which villag-
ers in central Lombok prepare themselves for dry season
water stress. We hypothesized that Lombok farmers used
unique strategies to deal with water shortages under high
population densities. Coping involves wide latitude of
strategies pursued by farmers. We noted that villages
with more water supplies had greater inter-village coop-
eration, and were better organized to interact with neigh-
Farmer Water Management Strategies for Dry Season Water Shortages in Central Lombok, Indonesia
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
boring villages. The reasons for this were unclear but vil-
lages in drier areas tended to be more autonomous, and
have more cooperation within the village (intra) but hav-
ing fewer water links to other villages Water abundance
seemed to influence organization and cooperation more
than anything else.
Indonesia has facilitated a heavy-handed top down
construction and management of irrigation facilities and
WUAs. Government and sectoral decentralization is tak-
ing place in Indonesia. It has and will take some time for
water user associations to become more financially in-
dependent and autonomous. Future agricultural water
shortages will require more efficient water user associa-
tions, currently called PPPA. The PPPA is really the
body of compromise and negotiation. Maintenance of
irrigation infrastructure by the PPPA or village will be
essential and may have to be more and better conceived.
The organizational relationships found in villages in-
cluded: relationships between pekasih and farmer, peka-
sih and juru air, PPPA and pekasih, PPPA and farmer
The water allocation tactics found among villages in
central Lombok were varied and included allocating wa-
ter by time, location, height in paddock, and soil mois-
ture content. Compromise among stakeholders is not an
option but a necessity that involves a good deal of give
and take to not only get, but also to maintain water sup-
plies for one cropping season. The badan musyawarah is
a type of community deliberation that can be used in
solving water disputes and other civic problems.
Cropping systems in central Lombok were flexible and
adaptable to the shifts in irregular rainfall. The payment
system for water is based on in-kind payments called
suwinih. Incentives (extra payments) were identified as a
means to get extra or needed water as well as to maintain
amicable and healthy relationships between the parties.
Some strong traditional water management practices
found in central Lombok were the awig-awig, and the
gotong royong (community help culture). The subak has
been largely displaced by the government sponsored
WUAs over the last three decades.
The inability of the government to allow for bot-
tom-up management and flexibility in water delivery has
put pressure on farmers to utilize their own unique water
management and coping skills in times of water short-
ages. These coping innovations by farmers and villages
could be considered sustainable practices in that they
allow farmers to solve immediate water problems. This
research provides a starting point for the study of adap-
tive capacities under a resilience framework when placed
within the broader social and ecological systems in
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