This story excerpt below was translated from bahasa Indonesia. To read the original story in full and view its accompanying interactive graphics, visit Rupadata.id. You may also view the bahasa Indonesia story in full on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.
In Long Peleban Village, North Kalimantan, Indonesia time seems to run slowly. Four hundred of its citizens live without adequate modern facilities. There is no cellular signal, nor is there a power grid. The village-run generator only operates from sunset until 9 p.m.
This village was first inhabited in the 1920s, when the Dayak Kenyah people migrated from the upper reaches of the river in the interior of the jungles of Kalimantan to the present village area. They had children, and lived off what they could gather from the forest, gardens, and rivers. One hundred years later, this village has not changed much. Technology is still, by all appearances, a rarity.
Long Peleban is surrounded by protected forest areas and industrial forests. The road is still covered in bushes; the only available access is through the Kayan River. Using a speedboat, it takes about four hours to reach the village from the provincial capital of Tanjung Selor. Geographical isolation is the main reason why Long Peleban is lagging behind the rest of the world's technology.
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Five dams worth Rp350 trillion are planned to be built on the Kayan River in North Kalimantan. This hydropower mega-project will submerge two villages, irrevocably alter the lifestyle of thousands, and threaten biodiversity along the watershed.