Lake Toba Call Action to Sustainable Waste Management

Author: Aviaska Wienda Saraswati

Bandung, June 11, 2021– Lake Toba, known as one of the most famous lakes in the world. Located in North Sumatra province, Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world because it covers ​​more than 1,145 square kilometers with a depth of 450 meters. Uniquely, since this lake is vast, Toba likely called it an ocean with Samosir Island in the middle of it. 

This fame certainly increases the potential growth of the tourism sector. As well, the beauty of natural scenery, the wealth of local culture, and the delicious Toba cuisine will make tourists can’t wait to visit Lake Toba. Realizing the great potential of Lake Toba, the Government categorized this lake as one of the 5 super-priority National Tourism Strategic Areas (KSPN). 

As one of the super-priority KSPN areas, of course, the government plans to develop a massive tourism sector in Lake Toba. Unfortunately, the development of the tourism sector must be in line with the increase of environmental damage caused by waste from tourism activities. 

                 Photo 1. Participants of ETS 3.0 
            (Community Empowerment Documentation)

The local people certainly tried to prevent environmental damage due to tourism activities. However, more sustainable actions are still needed in preserving the environment of Lake Toba from tourism activities. Not only the local people, but also the government, the environmental community, and tourists must be involved to support the local people in building sustainable tourism in Lake Toba. 

Considering this issue, the EcoRanger Program from the Greeneration Foundation moves to acquaint more about the problems of waste management in Lake Toba. As a first step, EcoRanger held a discussion to discuss waste management in the Lake Toba Tourism Village through the EcoRanger Talkshow Series 3.0 (ETS 3.0) on June 10, 2021. ETS 3.0 is in the theme “Observing the Waste Management of Tourism Villages in the National Tourism Strategic Area of ​​Lake Toba, North Sumatra” and invited various tourism and waste management local actors, such as Armawati Chaniago (The leader of the waste bank from Medan), Ojax Manalu (Founder and Director of Rumah Karya Indonesia), Irwansyah Putra (Coordinator for Implementation of Village Fund Utilization Facilities, Ministry of Villages, Development of Underdeveloped Regions, and Transmigration), and Surana, MBA (Coordinator for Competency Improvement of Tourism Human Resources, Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy). 

Each speaker reveals the facts by conveying their ideas regarding the problems occurred. Armawati Chaniago stated that “The Lake Toba must immediately have a strategy to deal with the waste problem in the tourism village of Lake Toba. This problem cannot be postponed to be resolved because the volume of waste is greater than the waste containers.” Ojax Manalu said, “Building sustainable tourism is not only about strategy. There is an aspect that is no less important and should not be overlooked, it is building a culture in the community to move together to develop sustainable tourism.” 

      Photo 2. Presentation of Material from Ojax Manalu 
           (Community Empowerment Documentation)

 Not only local actors driving tourism and waste management, but also the government conveyed their ideas. Irwansyah Putra said, “In building a tourism village, we must support the village apparatus. Everyone in the village has limitations, here we are as environmental activists should help to empower them. Therefore, we can make a change to make the village sustainable and can support the economy of the Indonesian people.” Surana, MBA emphasized, “Nowadays a new trend is emerging in the post-pandemic tourism world. Where CHSE competence is a very important aspect for tourism destinations to be required, including tourism villages. The development of tourism requires the involvement of both the people, the community, and the government. The important point that we must hold in developing tourism is that we must restore the environment and nature because we only borrow from our next generation and have to return it to how it used to be.” 

     Photo 3. Presentation of Material from Surana, MBA 
             (Community Empowerment Documentation)

The ideas that emerged in this discussion forum from both speakers and participants would be nice to trigger various parties to take revolutionary steps for the realization of sustainable tourism. Of course, at least local communities, local governments, tourists and local communities can start this step immediately, because they are the ones who understand and testify to the problems that occur. This initial step will expose the new collaboration opportunities nationally and internationally for the sustainability of the Lake Toba tourism village. 

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