Artisanal and small-scale coal and gold mining communities are spread in Sawahlunto, a city in West Sumatera Province that was established in the middle of the 19th century during the Dutch East Indies colonization period.
This city is one of the oldest coal mine cities in South East Asia. In Sawahlunto, for years, women have an active role as informal artisanal and small-scale coal miners (in the local language, referred to as ‘pengepul or pemulung baro’). Female miners generally collect coal waste in the open pit area, whereas their husband works in the underground pit area. Female miners collect coal in a 20-25 kg sack and sell it to a collector at a price ranging between Rp 10,000 and Rp 15,000 (USD 0.7 – 1.5).
The pandemic and the amendment to the regulation on closure of open pits has caused the female miners to lose their main livelihood. Female miners see that there is an opportunity to start a business of small and micro enterprises by cooking and selling chips as an alternative livelihood during the pandemic period.