Story of the Land

Story of the Land (SOTL) was created to improve environmental and living conditions in Nagekeo regency, Nusa Tenggara Timur province of Indonesia, which has been facing uncontrolled littering.

A pile of trash at Danga Market, Mbay, Nagekeo. Photo from NTT News (4 Feb 2018)


For years, litter in the public areas of Nagekeo had been on the rise. This was due to the lack of environmental awareness, access to landfills, and other socio-economic factors. Pollution not only impacts public health, biodiversity, and ecology, but also economic well-being by making tourism development challenging. Moreover, waste production contributes to gender inequality, as waste management is seen as the responsibility of women in households.

In December 2018, Rosa, a WISE team member who grew up in Nagekeo, started Story of the Land (SOTL) while participating in UnionAID’s Indonesian Young Leaders Programme (INSPIRASI). Inspired by an INSPIRASI project in Auckland, New Zealand, Rosa adapted its core principles for Nagekeo, which has similarly strong local traditions.

Based on the Te Ao Māori philosophy (Māori world view), Auckland’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan recalls cultural values of the local community, addressing the ‘kaitiakitanga’ principle (protection and guardianship) and ‘Papatuanuku’ (mother earth). The project focuses on the belief the earth and environment do not belong to anyone and should be respected and protected.


SOTL hopes to encourage community engagement through environmental education including:

  • Identifying traditional relationships between the land and people 
  • Cultivating commitment to eliminate litter in public spaces
  • Providing informational resources for activists and policymakers


In October 2019, team members Rosa and Harris presented a paper titled, “Community empowerment for environmentally sustainable tourism based on local perspectives” at the 1st International Conference on Environment, Sustainability Issues and Community Development (INCRID) in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia.

Next steps

  • Develop an e-book
  • Create a documentary video

How you can help

  • Donate funding for the e-book and/or documentary video
  • Partner with us to improve environmental education in your area, utilising the SOTL approach