Story of Salt Farmers in Nagekeo During COVID-19 Pandemic

Not only suffering from clean water scarcity, East Nusa Tenggara also cannot escape from the COVID-19 pandemic spreading. Until early July 2020, there were more than 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus in East Nusa Tenggara. The East Nusa Tenggara provincial government has been doing various actions to prevent the broader spreading of COVID-19 pandemic. Civil society organizations and communities have been working hand in hand to prevent the virus spreading by staying at home, wearing masks if they have to go out, washing hands with soaps, and living a clean and healthy lifestyle.

As one of responses to COVID-19 pandemic, Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia) donated more than 40.000 hygiene kits which include soaps, tooth brushes, tooth paste, nail cutters, towels, hand soaps, steps of hand washing with hand soap stickers, and also community-led total sanitation (CLTS) themed snakes and ladders board game to several Plan’s working areas, including East Nusa Tenggara. Several volunteers and CLTS were also actively campaigning for a clean and healthy lifestyle by regular visits and posters and stickers distribution. Several entrepreneurs (beneficiaries) of Plan Indonesia also adjusted their business to produce cloth masks.

Almost everyone in community got affected by COVID-19 pandemic, at least economically. One of them is Mas Banong, a salt farmer from Nagekeo. This middle-aged woman who was also volunteering for Plan Indonesia shared her complaints and hopes to Plan Indonesia on a piece of letter.

Generally, the people in my village make a living by being salt and rice field farmers, and also entrepreneurs. Before this COVID-19 spreaded, our activities were normal. We were grateful to live in a coastal area with lots of sunlight and heat so that our salt ponds could be our main source of income to provide for our daily needs.

People in my village were traditional salt farmers and could make 20 bags of 50 kg salt for a week on average. Usually we sold them for Rp 30.000 per bag. Eversince an announcement from the central and regency government that the coronavirus could infect anybody, the residents were expected to not gather, do physical distancing, wear masks, wash hands with soaps, and stay at homes, my village residents’ activities started to decline. The residents started to be anxious and afraid.

To prevent this coronavirus spreading, the government closed markets. It had been 6 weeks since markets closed. Our local salt piled up but the markets were closed, where could we sell our salt?

We are lucky because our village is one of where Yayasan Plan International Indonesia is working, so that we can receive early hygiene kits. Plan Indonesia will support our community again with several hygiene kits such as masks, soaps, sanitary pads, and also several stationeries for children and various story books.

We will also be given mineral water tanks and clean mineral water from Plan Indonesia. We hope the village and regency government can help us, especially with basic food needs.

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Plan Indonesia also supports the central and regional government to prevent COVID-19 pandemic from spreading. Volunteers in Plan Indonesia’s working areas such as Mas Banong is a link for Plan Indonesia and community in East Nusa Tenggara for their needs can be properly delivered and quickly solved.

By: Agus Haru and Hanna Vanya