Following Stroma’s widely published (2012, 2014 and 2015) study of tourism and water in Bali she was asked to give a seminar on the topic in Denpasar. Also addressing the very well attended seminar was the head of the Hotel and Restaurant association and the head of the water department. Stroma was asked to be deliberately provocative to stir action, to deal with the pending water crisis, among the stakeholders. Under the title of “Is Tourism Killing Babies?” she therefore presented the finding that despite being Indonesia’s second most prosperous province it has a higher prevalence of diarrhoea and deaths of toddlers and infants than the national average. It is estimated that 65% of Bali’s water is used by the tourism industry on an island with unstoppable development. Bali now has 77,500 hotel rooms – up from 40,000 in 2002. Poor women are worst affected by the crisis. Their hand dug wells have run dry; drinking water is sold but the price continues to rise beyond affordable levels for the poor; unregulated, cheaper, sources are of dubious quality and cause sickness and diarrhoea.

Bali seminar 4

Stroma’s research and the seminar made headlines in four of the local newspapers the next day and two NGOs have begun working on the public education actions that were proposed. The IDEP foundation ( are calling on all Balinese civil, business, political and spiritual leadership, to take action in saving and protecting Bali’s freshwater. They aim to produce one newspaper article, and one TV broadcast a month and use street banners to get the message across. The charity I am an Angel ( has installed rainwater catchment and water pipes to the driest North East region and is producing a film about water conservation to be screened at this year’s international film festival.

Since this research Stroma’s work has focused on the specific gendered impacts of water shortages in tourist destinations. While each destination: Bali, Kerala, Costa Rica and Labuan Bajo have shown differences, in every case women have borne the brunt of the impacts, and in every case, other factors: economy, class, caste, nationality or race have compounded the problems for some groups of women. This intersectionality between gender and other aspects of our identity is an under-researched area in tourism studies.

Cole , S. and Browne, M. (2015) “Tourism and water inequality in Bali: A Social-Ecological Systems analysis”, Human Ecology – An Interdisciplinary Journal. DOI: 10.1007/s10745-015-9739-z

Cole , S. (2014) Tourism and water: from stakeholders to rights holders, and what tourism businesses need to do. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 22:1 p 89-106.

Cole , S. (2012) A Political Ecology of Water Equity and Tourism. A Case Study from Bali. Annals of Tourism Research 39:2 pp 1221-1241.