Discovering hidden treasure for the disadvantaged

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Indonesia – Water is an invaluable treasure for the living. Water can be very rare and expensive particularly in barren areas. This is an inspiring story of how Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta (UMS) helped the local community in Pucung to make a better living through discovering subterranean river.

Pucung village is one of the villages located in Eromoko districts in Wonogiri municipality, Central Java province, Indonesia. The population of Pucung village is 2,354 with the majority working as farmers or low-income labour. It is extremely difficult to find water in this village during the dry season, particularly from July to September.

Based on the study conducted by the Geography Faculty at Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta (UMS), the average amount of water for daily use per person in this village is 22.05 litres. The study also revealed that there actually existed a water resource that could resolve the villagers’ predicament.

The water resource derives from a subterranean river located in Suruh cave in Pucung village. It has a water flow rate of 2 litres per second and is predicted to meet the villagers’ need of water. Since the cave where the water resource is located is in vertical position and 1500 meters deep, lifting and distributing the water was a challenge.

The UMS Faculty of Geography in collaboration with the local government put in their effort to empower the local community to lift, distribute, and manage the water from Suruh cave. Both parties also assisted the local community in each activity related to water resource management.

In the first phase, UMS Faculty of Geography assisted the local community in providing the map of Suruh cave and the training for caving. The next phase was making a plan to lift the water, including building the dam and pumping the water. The outcome of this collaboration was the reduction of the water price from IDR 50,000 per cubic metre to IDR 5,000. In addition, the beauty of Suruh cave makes it a potential tourist attraction site. Therefore, training for caving can be useful for youths who are interested to be a cave tour guide.

Finding fresh water during the drought is no longer a challenge for the local community of Pucung village.