The aim of this page is to recognise, celebrate and encourage the self-empowerment of community agency networks (CANs) and community groups across Indonesia.

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  • News ‘It gets your stomach churning’: the team wading through nappies to clean up Bali’s waterways, (Jan 17, 2024)
  • News ‘A bus is open to everyone regardless of class’: riding the world’s biggest network, (Nov 30, 2023)
  • News The ‘Power of Mama’ fight Borneo’s wildfires with all-woman crew, (Nov 10, 2023)

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Networks and sustainability initiatives[edit | edit source]

IDEP's 24th Anniversary – Community Resilience Week 2023
Authors: IDEP Foundation, Aug 14, 2023

IDEP Foundation

Climate action[edit | edit source]

In 2020, "Indonesia will begin integrating the recommendations from its new Low Carbon Development Initiative into its 2020-2024 national development plan." Mangrove protection and restoration will play an important role in meeting the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by over 43 percent by 2030. W

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Due to its geographical and natural diversity, Indonesia is one of the countries most susceptible to the impacts of climate change. This is supported by the fact that Jakarta has been listed as the world's most vulnerable city, regarding climate change. It is also a major contributor as of the countries that has contributed most to greenhouse gas emissions due to its high rate of deforestation and reliance on coal power.

Made up of more than 17,000 islands and with a long coastline, Indonesia stands particularly vulnerable to the effects of rising sea levels and extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and storms. Its vast areas of tropical forests are vital in balancing out climate change by taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Projected impacts on Indonesia's agricultural sector, national economy and health are also significant issues.

Indonesia has committed to reducing its emissions within the framework of the Copenhagen Accord and Paris Agreement. Despite the significant impacts of climate change on the country, surveys show that Indonesia has a high proportion of climate change deniers.

Biodiversity[edit | edit source]

Coral reef restoration projects in Indonesia struggle to survive
Authors: Mongabay, May 4, 2022

Environment quality[edit | edit source]

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Environmental issues in Indonesia are associated with the country's high population density and rapid industrialisation, and they are often given a lower priority due to high poverty levels, and an under-resourced governance.

Most large palm oil plantations in Indonesia owned by Singaporean rich conglomerates who employ thousands of local native Indonesians.

Issues include large-scale deforestation (much of it illegal) and related wildfires causing heavy smog over parts of western Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; over-exploitation of marine resources; and environmental problems associated with rapid urbanisation and economic development, including air pollution, traffic congestion, garbage management, and reliable water and waste water services.

Deforestation and the destruction of peatlands make Indonesia the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Habitat destruction threatens the survival of indigenous and endemic species, including 140 species of mammals identified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as threatened, and 15 identified as critically endangered, including the Sumatran orangutan.

Trees, woodland and forest[edit | edit source]

Green Coast II in Aceh, for nature and people after the tsunami - Greenomics Indonesia - Wikipedia: Deforestation in Indonesia

Maps: Protecting forests & peatlands in Indonesia,

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Deforestation in Indonesia involves the long-term loss of forests and foliage across much of the country; it has had massive environmental and social impacts. Indonesia is home to some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world and ranks third in number of species behind Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Deforestation in Indonesia involves the long-term loss of forests and foliage across much of the country; it has had massive environmental and social impacts. Indonesia is home to some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world and ranks third in number of species behind Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As late as 1900, Indonesia was still a densely forested country: forests represented 84 percent of the total land area. Deforestation intensified in the 1970s and has accelerated further since then. The estimated forest cover of 170 million hectares around 1900 decreased to less than 100 million hectares by the end of the 20th century. In 2008, it was estimated that tropical rainforests in Indonesia would be logged out in a decade. Of the total logging in Indonesia, up to 80% is reported to be performed illegally.

Large areas of forest in Indonesia have been cleared by large multinational pulp companies, such as Asia Pulp and Paper, and replaced by plantations. Forests are often burned by farmers and plantation owners. Another major source of deforestation is the logging industry, driven by demand from China and Japan. Agricultural development and transmigration programs moved large populations into rainforest areas, further increasing deforestation rates. The widespread deforestation (and other environmental destruction) in Indonesia is often described by academics as an ecocide.

Logging and the burning of forests to clear land for cultivation has made Indonesia the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the United States. Forest fires often destroy high capacity carbon sinks, including old-growth rainforest and peatlands. In May 2011, Indonesia declared a moratorium on new logging contracts to help combat this. This appeared to be ineffective in the short-term, as the rate of deforestation continued to increase. By 2012 Indonesia had surpassed the rate of deforestation in Brazil, and become the fastest forest clearing nation in the world.

The Indonesian archipelago of about 17,000 islands is home to some of the most biodiverse forests in the world. In 1900 the total forest represented 84% of the total land area. By 1950 plantations and smallholder plantings of tree crops still only covered a small area. The forest cover by that time is estimated to 145 million ha (hectares) of primary forest and another 14 million ha (hectares) of secondary and tidal forest.

In the early 1970s Indonesia used this valuable resource to its economic benefit with the development of the country's wood processing industries. From the late 1980s to 2000, production capacity has increased nearly 700% in the pulp and paper industries, making Indonesia the world's ninth largest pulp producer and eleventh largest paper producer.

The rate of deforestation continues to increase. The 2009 State Environment Report launched by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono revealed that the number of fire hotspots rose to 32,416 in 2009 from only 19,192 in 2008. The Environment Ministry blamed the increase on weak law enforcement and a lack of supervision from local authorities, with land clearance as the primary cause of the fires.

Between 1990 and 2000 20% of the forest area in Indonesia had been lost (24 million ha) and by 2010, only 52% of the total land area was forested (94 million ha). Even despite a moratorium on new logging contracts imposed in 2010, the rate of deforestation continued to increase to an estimated 840,000 hectares in 2012, surpassing deforestation in Brazil. Deforestation in Indonesia peaked in 2016, and thereafter declined, falling by about 30% (comparing 2009–2016 with 2017–2019). Studies attributed the decline to "a policy mix including bans on primary forest clearing and peat drainage, a review of land concessions, and a moratorium on new palm oil plantations and mines" as well as to oil palm sustainability certification programs for forests on existing plantations. Community forest titles were also issued for 2.4 million hectares across Indonesia, but a 2021 study did not find evidence that these programs reduced deforestation.

Over the years 2001–2016, the largest single driver of deforestation in Indonesia was palm oil plantations, accounting for about 23% of deforestation nationwide. The second largest driver of deforestation was conversion of forests to grassland/shrubland, accounting for about 20% of deforestation nationwide. Clearances for small-scale agriculture and small-scale mixed plantations accounted for a combined 22% of deforestation nationwide. Logging roads and small-scale clearings, followed by regrowth of secondary forest, accounted for about 10% of deforestation nationwide. All other causes (such as mining and fish ponds) collectively accounted for about 5% of deforestation nationwide.

In Indonesia, at least 3.3 million hectares of forest were turned into palm oil plantation. However, annual primary forest loss declined from 930,000 hectares in 2016 to 230,000 hectares in 2022. According to the new rules established by the government, landowners that grow oil palm plantation on production forest land will pay fines, while those who grow them on protected forest land will give them to government for being converted to forests again. 200,000 hectares of plantation will be converted to forest. Legal action will be taken against companies who grow the plantations illegally.

Rapid and increasing deforestation harms Indonesia's broad biodiversity and drives Indonesia's greenhouse gas emissions, which are among the world's highest. The conversion and burning of peat soils causes severe air pollution, presenting major public health harms.

Indonesia's lowland tropical forests, the richest in timber resources and biodiversity, are most at risk. By 2000 they have been almost entirely cleared in Sulawesi, and predicted to disappear within few years in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

In Sumatra tens of thousands of square kilometres of forest have been destroyed often under central government concessions given to palm oil companies to remove the forest. In Kalimantan, from 1991 to 2014, large areas of the forest were burned because of uncontrollable fire causing atmospheric pollution across South-East Asia.

A 2007 United Nations Environment Program report estimated that between 73% and 88% of timber logged in Indonesia is the result of illegal logging. Subsequent estimates were that between 40% and 55% of logged in Indonesia is the result of illegal logging. A 2021 study estimated that 81% of forest conversion for palm oil in Indonesia was illegal, and that Indonesia's Supreme Audit Agency determined that less than 20% of the nation's palm oil operations complied with national laws and regulations.

Malaysia is the key transit country for illegal wood products from Indonesia.

Private corporations, motivated by economic profits from local and regional market demands for timber, are culpable for deforestation. These agro-industrial companies often do not comply with the basic legal regulations by inappropriately employing cost effective yet environmentally inefficient deforestation methods such as forest fires to clear the land for agricultural purposes. The 1999 Forestry Law states that it is essential for companies to be endorsed by authorities in respective regions with an IPK permit, a timber harvesting permit, for legal approval of their deforestation activities. Many of these corporations could circumvent this red tape, maximise revenue profits by employing illegal logging activities as lax law enforcement and porous law regulations in large developing countries like Indonesia undermine forestry conservation efforts.

In the social landscape, small-scale subsistence farmers in rural areas, who received minimal education, employ a basic method of slash-and-burn to support their agricultural activities. This rudimentary agricultural technique involves the felling of forest trees before a dry season and, subsequently, the burning of these trees in the following dry season to provide fertilisers to support their crop activities. This agricultural practice is repetitively employed on the same plot of land until it is denuded of its nutrients and could no longer suffice to support agricultural yields. Thereafter, these farmers will move on to occupy another plot of land and continually practice their slash-and-burn technique. This contributing social factor to deforestation reinforces the challenges faced by forestry sustainability in developing countries such as Indonesia.

On the political front, the Indonesian governmental role in curbing deforestation has largely been criticised. Corruption amongst local Indonesian officials fuels cynicism with regard to the governmental clampdown on illegal logging activities. In 2008, the acquittal of a proprietor for a timber firm, Adelin Lis, alleged for illegal logging further galvanised public opinion and drew criticisms at the Indonesian political institution.

The Indonesian government grapples with the management of deforestation with sustainable urban development as rural-urban migration necessitates the expansion of cities. The lack of accountability to deforestation with pertinence to transmigration projects undertaken by the Indonesian government illustrates minimal supporting evidence to testify to considerations for forestry sustainability in their development projects. This further augments scepticism in the Indonesian government's credibility in efficiently and responsibly managing their urban development projects and forestry conservation efforts.

Efforts to curb global climate change have included measures designed to monitor the progression of deforestation in Indonesia and incentivise national and local governments to halt it. The general term for these sorts of programs is Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). New systems to monitor deforestation are being applied to Indonesia. One such system, the Center for Global Development's Forest Monitoring for Action platform currently displays monthly-updated data on deforestation throughout Indonesia.

On 26 May 2010 Indonesia signed a letter of intent with Norway, to place a two-year moratorium on new logging concessions, part of a deal in which Indonesia will receive up to $US1 billion if it adheres to its commitment. The accord was expected to put curbs on Indonesia's palm oil industry and delay or slow plans for the creation of a huge agricultural estate in Papua province. Funds will initially be devoted to finalising Indonesia's climate and forest strategy, building and institutionalising capacity to monitor, report and verify reduced emissions, and putting in place enabling policies and institutional reforms. Norway is going to help Indonesia to set up a system to help reduce corruption so that the deal can be enforced. The two-year logging moratorium was declared on 20 May 2011. The moratorium was extended by another two years in 2013.

In 2014, Indonesia was one of about 40 countries who endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests, a voluntary pledge to halve deforestation by 2020 and end it by 2030. The agreement was not legally binding, however, and some key countries, such as Brazil, China, and Russia, did not sign onto it. As a result, the effort failed, and deforestation increased from 2014 to 2020, both globally and in Indonesia. In November 2021, Indonesia was one of 141 countries (collectively making up around 85% of the world's primary tropical forests and 90% of global tree cover) agreed at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow to the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use, a pledge to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. The agreement was accompanied by about $19.2 billion in associated funding commitments. Like the earlier agreement, the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration was entered into outside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and is thus not legally binding. Immediately after Indonesia entered the pledge, the county's government walked back the commitment, with environment minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar stating that "forcing Indonesia to zero deforestation in 2030 is clearly inappropriate and unfair".

  • Deforestation in Borneo
  • Deforestation in Papua New Guinea
  • 1997 Indonesian forest fires
  • Palm oil production in Indonesia
  • The Burning Season (2008 film)
  • APP


  • Environmental issues in Indonesia
  • Crime in Indonesia
  • Forest Monitoring for Action (FORMA) – Frequently updated online map of forest clearing in Indonesia
  • "Asia Pulp & Paper announces end to deforestation in Indonesia," Climate Action (12 February 2013)
  • "Greenpeace supports Asia Pulp & Paper's commitment to end deforestation in Indonesia," (5 February 2013), press release

Community energy[edit | edit source]


Education for sustainability[edit | edit source]


Green School, Bali

Food activism[edit | edit source]

Solar cooking resources in Indonesia

Sharing[edit | edit source]

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Communal work is a gathering for mutually accomplishing a task or for communal fundraising. Communal work provided manual labour to others, especially for major projects such as barn raising, "bees" of various kinds (see § Bee below), log rolling, and subbotniks. Different words have been used to describe such gatherings.

They are less common in today's more individualistic cultures, where there is less reliance on others than in preindustrial agricultural and hunter-gatherer societies. Major jobs such as clearing a field of timber or raising a barn needed many workers. It was often both a social and utilitarian event. Jobs like corn husking or sewing could be done as a group to allow socializing during an otherwise tedious chore. Such gatherings often included refreshments and entertainment.

In more modern societies, the word bee has also been used for some time already for other social gatherings without communal work, for example for competitions such as a spelling bee.

Harambee (Swahili: [hɑrɑˈᵐbɛː]) is an East African (Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ugandan) tradition of community self-help events, e.g. fundraising or development activities. Harambee literally means 'all pull together' in Swahili, and is also the official motto of Kenya and appears on its coat of arms.

Umuganda is a national day of community service held on the last Saturday of each month in Rwanda. In 2009, umuganda was institutionalized in the country. It is translated as 'coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome'.

A social event is held to build a house or a farm, especially for elderly and widows who do not have the physical strength to do it on their own.

Naffīr (نَفِّير) is an Arabic word used in parts of Sudan (including Kordofan, Darfur, parts of the Nuba mountains and Kassala) to describe particular types of communal work undertakings. Naffīr has been described as including a group recruited through family networks, in-laws and village neighbors for some particular purpose, which then disbands when that purpose is fulfilled. An alternative, more recent, definition describes naffīr as 'to bring someone together from the neighborhood or community to carry out a certain project, such as building a house or providing help during the harvest season'.

The word may be related to the standard Arabic word nafr (نَفْر) which describes a band, party, group or troop, typically mobilized for war. In standard Arabic, a naffīr ʽāmm (نَفِّير عَامّ) refers to a general call to arms.

Naffīr has also been used in a military context in Sudan. For example, the term was used to refer to النَّفِّير الشَّعَبِي an-Naffīr aš-Šaʽabī or "the People's Militias" that operated in the central Nuba Mountains region in the early 1990s.

Kuu is a labor-sharing arrangement in Liberia, especially for seasonal work.

Gotong-royong is a conception of sociality ethos familiar to Indonesia. In Indonesian languages especially Javanese, gotong means 'carrying a burden using one's shoulder', while royong means 'together' or 'communally', thus the combined phrase gotong royong can be translated literally as 'joint bearing of burdens'. It translate to working together, helping each other or mutual assistance. The village's public facilities, such as irrigation, streets, and houses of worship (mosque, church or pura) are usually constructed through gotong royong, where the funds and materials are collected mutually. Traditional communal events, such as the slametan ceremony, are also usually held in the gotong royong ethos of communal work spirit, which each member of society is expected to contribute to and participate in the endeavour harmoniously.

The phrase has been translated into English in many ways, most of which hearken to the conception of reciprocity or mutual aid. For M. Nasroen, gotong royong forms one of the core tenets of Indonesian philosophy. Paul Michael Taylor and Lorraine V. Aragon state that "gotong royong [is] cooperation among many people to attain a shared goal."

In a 1983 essay Clifford Geertz points to the importance of gotong royong in Indonesian life:

An enormous inventory of highly specific and often quite intricate institutions for effecting the cooperation in work, politics, and personal relations alike, vaguely gathered under culturally charged and fairly well indefinable value-images—rukun ('mutual adjustment'), gotong royong ('joint bearing of burdens'), tolong-menolong ('reciprocal assistance')—governs social interaction with a force as sovereign as it is subdued.

Anthropologist Robert A. Hahn writes:

Javanese culture is stratified by social class and by level of adherence to Islam. ...Traditional Javanese culture does not emphasize material wealth. ...There is respect for those who contribute to the general village welfare over personal gain. And the spirit of gotong royong, or volunteerism, is promoted as a cultural value.

Gotong - royong has long functioned as the scale of the village, as a moral conception of the political economy. Pottier records the impact of the Green Revolution in Java:

"Before the GR, 'Java' had relatively 'open' markets, in which many local people were rewarded in kind. With the GR, rural labour markets began to foster 'exclusionary practices'... This resulted in a general loss of rights, especially secure harvesting rights within a context of mutual cooperation, known as gotong royong."

Citing Ann Laura Stoler's ethnography from the 1970s, Pottier writes that cash was replacing exchange, that old patron-client ties were breaking, and that social relations were becoming characterized more by employer-employee qualities.

For Prime Minister Muhammad Natsir, gotong royong was an ethical principle of sociality, in marked contrast to both the "unchecked" feudalism of the West, and the social anomie of capitalism.

Ideas of reciprocity, ancient and deeply enmeshed aspects of kampung morality, were seized upon by postcolonial politicians. John Sidel writes: "Ironically, national-level politicians drew on "village conceptions of adat and gotong royong. They drew on notions "of traditional community to justify new forms of authoritarian rule."

During the presidency of Sukarno, the idea of gotong royong was officially elevated to a central tenet of Indonesian life. For Sukarno, the new nation was to be synonymous with gotong royong. He said that the Pancasila could be reduced to the idea of gotong royong. On June 1, 1945, Sukarno said of the Pancasila:

The first two principles, nationalism and internationalism, can be pressed to one, which I used to call 'socionationalism.' Similarly with democracy 'which is not the democracy of the West' together with social justice for all can be pressed down to one, and called socio democracy. Finally – belief in God. 'And so what originally was five has become three: socio nationalism, socio democracy, and belief in God.' 'If I press down five to get three, and three to get one, then I have a genuine Indonesian term – GOTONG ROYONG [mutual co-operation]. The state of Indonesia which we are to establish should be a state of mutual co-operation. How fine that is ! A Gotong Royong state!

In 1960, Sukarno dissolved the elected parliament and implemented the Gotong Royong Parliament. Governor of Jakarta, Ali Sadikin, spoke of a desire to reinvigorate urban areas with village sociality, with gotong royong. Suharto's New Order was characterized by much discourse about tradition. During the New Order, Siskamling harnessed the idea of gotong royong. By the 1990s, if not sooner, gotong royong had been "fossilized" by New Order sloganeering. During the presidency of Megawati, the Gotong Royong Cabinet was implemented. It lasted from 2001 to 2004.

Bayanihan (, IPA: [ˌbajɐˈnihan]) is a Filipino term taken from the word bayan, referring to a nation, country, town or community. The whole term bayanihan refers to a spirit of communal unity or effort to achieve a particular objective. It is focused on doing things as a group as it relates to one's community.

The term bayanihan originated in the practice of volunteers from a community helping a family move by carrying the house itself, a tradition which remains the classic illustration for the concept as a whole. The feat is accomplished by building a frame from bamboo poles, which individuals stationed at the ends of each pole then use to lift and carry the house. The family traditionally shows their gratitude for the assistance by hosting a small fiesta.

In society, bayanihan has been adopted as a term to refer to a local civil effort to resolve national issues. One of the first groups to use the term is the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company which travels to countries to perform traditional folk dances of the country with the objective of promoting Philippine culture. The concept is related to damayán ('to help one another').

In computing, the term bayanihan has evolved into many meanings and incorporated as codenames to projects that depict the spirit of cooperative effort involving a community of members. An example of these projects is the Bayanihan Linux project which is a Philippines-based desktop-focused Linux distribution.

In ethnic newspapers, Bayanihan News is the name of the community newspaper for the Philippine community in Australia. It is in English and in Filipino with regular news and articles on Philippine current events and history. It was established in October 1998 in Sydney, Australia.

Basij was created after the Islamic Revolution and during the Iran and Iraq wars. It was an organization which aimed to gather volunteers for fighting in the frontline. It was also a central idea of utilizing donations and volunteers to help the soldiers and bringing aid to the frontline.Women played a big role by knitting warm clothes, making foods, sewing new uniforms or religious accessories.Basij's aim and goals have been shifted and distorted after the war; after the war ended the Basij organization continue working as a center to spread ideologies of the Islamic revolution in schools and mosques. Basij now is part of the Sepah army (military, cultural and financial) organization which receives an undefined budget from the government.

Imece is a name given for a traditional Turkish village-scale collaboration. For example, if a couple is getting married, villagers participate in the overall organization of the ceremony including but not limited to preparation of the celebration venue, food, building and settlement of the new house for the newly weds. Tasks are often distributed according to expertise and has no central authority to govern activities.

Talkoot (from Finnish talkoo, almost always used in plural, talkoot) is a Finnish expression for a gathering of friends and neighbors organized to accomplish a task. The word is borrowed into Finland Swedish as talko but is unknown to most Swedes. However, cognate terms and in approximately the same context are used in Estonia (talgu(d)), Latvia (noun talka, verb talkot), and Lithuania (noun talka, verb talkauti). It is the cultural equivalent of communal work in a village community, although adapted to the conditions of Finland, where most families traditionally lived in isolated farms often miles away from the nearest village.

A talkoot is by definition voluntary, and the work is unpaid. The voluntary nature might be imaginary due to social pressure, especially in small communities, and one's honour and reputation may be severely damaged by non-attendance or laziness. The task of the talkoot may be something that is a common concern for the good of the group, or it may be to help someone with a task that exceeds his or her own capacity. For instance, elderly neighbours or relatives can need help if their house or garden is damaged by a storm, or siblings can agree to arrange a party for a parent's special birthday as a talkoot.

Typically, club houses, landings, churches, and parish halls can be repaired through a talkoot, or environmental tasks for the neighborhood are undertaken. The parents of pre-school children may gather to improve the playground, or the tenants of a tenement house may arrange a talkoot to put their garden in order for the summer or winter. A person unable to contribute with actual work may contribute food for the talkoot party, or act as a baby-sitter. When a talkoot is for the benefit of an individual, he or she is the host of the talkoot party and is obliged to offer food and drink.

Toloka or taloka (also pomoch) in Russian (toloka in Ukrainian and talaka in Belarusian, tłoka in Polish) is the form of communal voluntary work. Neighbours gather together to build something or to harvest crops.

Kaláka (IPA: [ˈkɒlaːkɒ]) is the Hungarian word for working together for a common goal. This can be building a house or doing agricultural activities together, or any other communal work on a volunteer basis.

Meitheal (IPA: [ˈmʲɛhəlˠ]) is the Irish word for a work team, gang, or party and denotes the co-operative labour system in Ireland where groups of neighbours help each other in turn with farming work such as harvesting crops.

The term is used in various writings of Irish language authors. It can convey the idea of community spirit in which neighbours respond to each other's needs. In modern use for example, a meitheal could be a party of neighbours and friends invited to help decorate a house in exchange for food and drink, or in scouting, where volunteer campsite wardens maintain campsites around Ireland.

Andecha (from Latin indictia 'announcement) is voluntary, unpaid and punctual aid to help a neighbor carry out agricultural tasks (cutting hay, harvesting potatoes, building a barn, collecting apples to make cider, etc.). The work is rewarded with a snack or a small party and the tacit commitment that the person assisted will come with their family to the call of another andecha when another neighbor requests it. It is very similar to the Irish meitheal.

It should not be confused with another Asturian collective work institution, the sestaferia. In this, the provision of the service is mandatory (under penalty of fine) and is not called a to help of an individual but the provision of common services (repair of bridges, cleaning of roads, etc.)

Dugnad is a Norwegian term for voluntary work done together with other people. It is a core phenomenon for Norwegians, and the word was voted as the Norwegian word of the year 2004 in the TV programme Typisk norsk ('Typically Norwegian'). Participation in a dugnad is often followed by a common meal, served by the host, or consisting of various dishes brought by the participants, thus the meal is also a dugnad.

In urban areas, the dugnad is most commonly identified with outdoor spring cleaning and gardening in housing co-operatives. Dugnader (plural) are also a phenomenon in kindergartens and elementary schools to make the area nice, clean and safe and to do decorating etc. such as painting and other types of maintenance. Dugnader occur more widely in remote and rural areas. Neighbours sometimes participate during house or garage building, and organizations (such as kindergartens or non-profit organisations) may arrange annual dugnader.

The Norwegian word dugnadsånd is translatable to the spirit of will to work together for a better community. Many Norwegians will describe this as a typical Norwegian thing to have.

The word dugnad was used to unite the people of Norway to cooperate and shut down public activities to fight the pandemic of 2020.

Moba (Serbian: моба) is an old Serbian tradition of communal self-help in villages. It was a request for help in labor-intensive activities, like harvesting wheat, building a church or repairing village roads.

The work was entirely voluntary and no compensation, except possibly meals for workers, was expected.

Gadugi (Cherokee: ᎦᏚᎩ) is a term used in the Cherokee language which means 'working together' or 'cooperative labor' within a community. Historically, the word referred to a labor gang of men and/or women working together for projects such as harvesting crops or tending to gardens of elderly or infirm tribal members. The word Gadugi was derived from the Cherokee word for 'bread', which is Gadu.

In recent years the Cherokee Nation tribal government has promoted the concept of Gadugi. The GaDuGi Health Center is a tribally run clinic in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the capital of the Cherokee Nation. The concept is becoming more widely known. In Lawrence, Kansas, in 2004 the rape crisis center affiliated with the University of Kansas, adopted the name the Gadugi Safe Center for its programs to aid all people affected by sexual violence.


Konbit or Tet Ansanm in Haitian Creole.

Tequio. Zapoteca

Mink'a or minka (Quechua or Kichwa, Hispanicized minca, minga) is a type of traditional communal work in the Andes in favor of the whole community (ayllu). Participants are traditionally paid in kind. Mink'a is still practiced in indigenous communities in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile, especially among the Quechua and the Aymara.

Before the Inca conquest of around 1450, the Aymara kingdoms practiced two forms of communal work – Ayni, which refers to work undertaken for one's own local community, or Ayllu with many tasks subdivided according to gender roles (Chachawarmi), and Minka, which refers to communal work taking place across different Ayllus such as building work or work undertaken during seasonal migrations such as the Aymaras from the Altiplano i.e. areas of the Andes mountains at too high an altitude for agriculture, migrating with their camelids to agricultural areas in the Precordillera, and then to the forests that were once present in today's Atacama Desert and finally helping build boats with the Chango peoples in the sea area near present-day Arica or Tacna, in return for fish which has been found in the stomachs of mummies found at said high altitudes such as around lake Titicaca The Inca added the practice of Mita (forced labour for the empire, e.g. silver mining) and the Yanakuna who are skilled individuals forcibly removed from their Ayllus to perform a task for the empire, for example as architects/builders. The concept of Minga in particular has been shown to encompass various forms of Andean communal work used from the Mapuche peoples in the south to the Moche and other Pre-Chavin peoples near Cuzco in what is now Peru.

Mutirão is, in Brazil, a collective mobilization to achieve an end, based on mutual help provided free of charge. It is an expression originally used for working in the countryside, or for the construction of low-income houses. In a mutirão, everyone is simultaneously benevolent and beneficiary and works in a rotating system and without hierarchy.Currently, by extension of meaning, mutirão can designate any collective initiative for the execution of an unpaid service, such as a joint effort to paint a neighborhood school, clean a park and others.The word mutirão comes from the Tupi term motyrõ, which means 'work in common'. The same Tupi term gave rise to several other spellings, all currently in disuse (motirão, muquirão, mutirom, mutirum, mutrião, muxiran, muxirão, muxirom, pixurum, ponxirão, punxirão, putirão, putirom, putirum, puxirum).

In rural southern Chile, labor reciprocity and communal work remained common through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, particularly in rural communities on the Archipelago of Chiloé. Referred to as mingas, the practice can be traced to pre-contact Mapuche and Huilliche traditions of communal labor. In Chiloé, mingas took the form either of días cambiados (tit for tat exchanges of labor between neighbors) or large-scale work parties hosted by a particular family, accompanied by food and drink, and often lasting several days. Most agricultural work and community construction projects were done by way of mingas. The tiradura de casa ('house pull') involved moving a house from one location to another.

In rural Panama, especially in the Azuero peninsula region and its diaspora, it is common to hold a junta party as a communal labor event. Most commonly these events are used to harvest rice, clear brush with machetes, or to build houses. Workers generally work without compensation but are provided with meals and often alcoholic beverages such as fermented chicha fuerte and seco.

This use of the word bee is common in literature describing colonial North America. One of the earliest documented occurrences is found in the Boston Gazette for 16 October 1769, where it is reported that "Last Thursday about twenty young Ladies met at the house of Mr. L. on purpose for a Spinning Match; (or what is called in the Country a Bee)." It was, and continues to be, commonly used in Australia also, most often as "working bee".

Uses in literature include:

  • "There was a bee to-day for making a road up to the church." – Anne Langton
  • "The cellar ... was dug by a bee in a single day." – S. G. Goodrich
  • "I made a bee; that is, I collected as many of the most expert and able-bodied of the settlers to assist at the raising." – John Galt, Lawrie Todd (1830)
  • "When one of the pioneers had chopped down timber and got it in shape, he would make a logging bee, get two or three gallons of New England Rum, and the next day the logs were in great heaps. ... after a while there was a carding and jutting mill started where people got their wool made into rolls, when the women spun and wove it. Sometimes the women would have spinning bees. They would put rolls among their neighbors and on a certain day they would all bring in their yarn and at night the boys would come with their fiddles for a dance. ... He never took a salary, had a farm of 80 acres [324,000 m2] and the church helped him get his wood (cut and drawn by a bee), and also his hay." – James Slocum
  • "'I am in a regular quandary', said the mistress of the house, when the meal was about half over. Mr. Van Brunt looked up for an instant, and asked, 'What about?' 'Why, how I am ever going to do to get those apples and sausage-meat done. If I go to doing 'em myself I shall about get through by spring.' 'Why don't you make a bee?' said Mr. Van Brunt." – Susan Warner, The Wide, Wide World (1850)
  • "She is gone out with Cousin Deborah to an apple bee." – Charlotte Mary Yonge, The Trial; or More Links of the Daisy Chain (1864)

The origin of the word bee in this sense is debated. Because it describes people working together in a social group, a common belief is that it derives from the insect of the same name and similar social behaviour. This derivation appears in, for example, the Oxford English Dictionary. Other dictionaries, however, regard this as a false etymology, and suggest that the word comes from dialectal been or bean (meaning 'help given by neighbours'), derived in turn from Middle English bene (meaning 'prayer', 'boon' and 'extra service by a tenant to his lord').

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Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It consists of over 17,000 islands, including Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, and parts of Borneo and New Guinea. Indonesia is the world's largest archipelagic state and the 14th-largest country by area, at 1,904,569 square kilometres (735,358 square miles). With over 280 million people, Indonesia is the world's fourth-most-populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority country. Java, the world's most populous island, is home to more than half of the country's population.

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FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Keywords countries
Authors Phil Green
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 999 pages link here
Aliases GBCI, Indonesian, Indonesia
Impact 1,643 page views
Created March 23, 2007 by Chris Watkins
Modified June 14, 2024 by Phil Green
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