Post B: Yuyun Ismawati’s Waste and Sanitation Initiatives

Indonesia, along with many other developing nations, struggle with maintaining effective waste disposal solutions, and will often have to turn to short term fixes that not only harm to the environment, but can be detrimental to the safety of the community. In 2005, a 200 foot open garbage dump collapsed in Bandung, causing a landslide over two villages, killing 140 citizens and injuring many more. As a solution, many villages burn their waste, but this is an also and ineffective method as it contributes greatly to air pollution and which damages the environment and contributes to illness in the village’s residents.

Indonesian environmental engineer, Yuyun Ismawati, has designed sustainable community-based waste and sanitation management programs that provide employment opportunities and empower low income residents to improve the environment in Indonesia. She was awarded the Islands and Island Nations 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize for this work in 2009. Her initiatives are a combination of architecture, design thinking and community planning, and are government funded when possible,  but also funded by the communities themselves. Ismawati created her own NGO, called Bali Fokus, which allowed the spread of her waste management solutions beyond just a few communities, into the greater area of Indonesia, as well as raising awareness of the waste and environmental issues to the larger community.

Yuyun Ismawati_tamesi
Ismawati working with Tamesi village residents on their community based and managed waste facility. (

A major part of Ismawati’s influential work was with the Tamesi village, where a solid waste management program was initiated, by introducing a waste management facility owned and operated by the village itself. She recruited and trained local residents to operate the facility, which provided more job opportunities to these low income citizens. These job opportunities as well as the sale of recyclables and compost coming out of the facility boosted the local farmers and the community as a whole.

She also worked on a ‘decentralised solution initiative’ as a collaboration with Indonesian housewives, with a focus on village households. Ismawati and her team aimed to reduce the total amount of waste coming out of individual households by educating these women in simple waste reducing practices such as waste separation and composting. It is estimated that this initiative reduced household waste by 50%, with many households also gaining much needed income from selling compost or crafts made from recyclables at the local markets.

Indonesian village residents completing their ‘SANIMAS’ education program. (

In order to create a more long term fix for Indonesia’s waste issues, Ismawati set up an education and waste and sanitation management program called ‘SANIMAS’  which educates communities on the issues at hand, as well as providing them with sustainable waste management and sanitation programs specific to their community, similar to the Tamesi Village project and ‘decentralised solution initiative’ discussed above. SANIMAS is now a nationwide solution initiative, with up to 75 small to medium sized communities being added to the program every year.


BaliFokus 2014, Yuyun Ismawati named an Inspiring Woman of the Year by FORBES Indonesia, BaliFocus, Bali, Indonesia, viewed 25 April 2015, <>.

BORDA South East Asia 2009, Sanitation by Communities – SANIMAS, Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, viewed 25 April 2015, <>.

Gies, E. 2009, As Tourism Rises in Bali, What to do with Waste? The New York Times, New York City, USA, viewed 25 April 2015, <>.

Ismawati, Y. 2009, Sanitation by the Community in Denpasar, Indonesia (SANIMAS), United Nations ESCAP, Bangkok, Thailand, viewed 25 April 2015, <>.

The Goldman Prize 2015, Yuyun Ismawati, Goldman Environmental Foundation, San Francisco, USA, viewed 25 April 2015, <>.

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