Our Director Stroma Cole recently released her Initial Policy Paper arising out of her research in Flores, Indonesia: ‘For the Worry of Water: Water, Women and Tourism in Labuan Bajo’. Below is the executive summary of the report, which can be read in full by clicking here.


Tourism has added to a water crisis in the rapidly growing gateway town to Komodo National Park: Labuan Bajo. Residents are suffering from the scarcity and cost of water for basic human needs. Based on ethnographic research, over 100 people were consulted on the problems and potential solutions. Women are bearing the brunt of the burdens as they are responsible for the provision and management of water for domestic purposes. The present system is priced unfairly, is illegal, and unsustainable. Water supply is a significant factor in Labuan Bajo’s inability to attract the type of tourists it deserves and needs.


The immediate needs are for regulation of the quality and price of the tanker water that supplies many people in the town. Longer term needs, but require starting as soon as possible, are for water catchment protection and water conservation education. Essential to the success of water management in Labuan Bajo is the total overhaul of the state run water supply company, PDAM, and women need to be trained for leadership and monitoring to ensure solutions are enacted and women’s voice on the provision and supply of water is heard.