New eco tourism village for Indonesia

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit ecumenical Christian housing ministry which seeks to eliminate poverty and homelessness from the world.  Habitat began operating in Indonesia in 1997 and since then they have helped to re-build Aceh after the devastating tsunamis that occurred.  In all, Habitat works in 13 Provinces in Indonesia, a country which is prone to natural disasters.

Habitat for Humanity, in association with Asia Pulp and Paper, has announced that it is building its first eco-tourism village of more than 420 homes and guest accommodations on the island of Java near some of Indonesia’s most picturesque ancient temples.

The development will take place in the village of Soran, located near the famous Prambanan Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built around 850 AD. The village is also located near Mount Merapi, the nation’s most famous volcano, which erupted last year.

The project will improve housing for most villagers, while establishing a sustainable, eco-friendly hospitality business built on the community’s historic cultural traditions. The development will share the area’s natural and cultural treasures with the world by creating accommodations for tourists who wish to tour the sacred temples, visit nearby natural landmarks or enjoy the cultural performances.

The three-year project will outfit family homes with additional space and facilities to accommodate eco-tourists who visit the historic Central Java area. The homes will have either:    

• Guest quarters where visitors can sleep.

• Laundry facilities to wash guests’ clothes and bedding.

• Expanded kitchen facilities where guest meals can be prepared.

Homes will also be made earthquake-proof and 20 percent of APP’s annual contribution to the project is being set aside for ongoing disaster relief.

While details of the development initiatives are still being finalized with community members, the initial plan is to train more than 250 villagers to operate eco-tourist accommodations:

• 50 villagers will be trained on laundry management.

• 100 villagers will be trained to properly prepare traditional foods for visitors.

• 100 families will be trained on cultural performance and marketing traditional arts.

In addition, several hundred villagers will be trained in disaster risk mitigation.

Work has been expected to begin on the new development last year, but was delayed because of Merapi’s eruption. Soran was covered in volcanic dust, but villagers completed a cleanup with the help of cleanup kits and cleaning materials donated by APP. As with all of its programs, Habitat Indonesia will engage community leaders, local stakeholders, and the villagers themselves in all stages of the development – from planning through construction.

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