The area of Muntigunung is located on the northern slopes of the Batur caldera in Bali, between 100 and 800 meters above sea level. It covers an area of 28 km2 and consists of 36 villages with about 6000 inhabitants. Some of these villages have no roads and are therefore difficult to access.
The northern side of Bali and therefore also the area of Muntigunung is extremely dry. For most of the year (about 8 months), the clouds from the south stop and rain on the natural barrier the mountains Agung, Abang and Batur create. Areas north of these mountains get no rain in the dry season between May and December. Muntigunung has no natural sources of water so solving this issue is the most urgent problem for the community. Up to 5 hours per day are needed to fetch water from the distant Lake Batur or from the coast. This is task is predominantly undertaken by women and children.
The intense dry season prevents the cultivation of agricultural products for most of the year. A lack of formal education (most of the elderly are illiterate), opportunities for employment and the generation of sustainable income is thus forcing the women and children of Muntigunung to beg in the tourist areas in the south of the island to ensure their survival. 95% of the beggars in Bali are from the area of Muntigunung as it is the poorest region on the island.
The scarcity of water, knowledge on how to purify it and a lack of toilets create very unhygienic surroundings which take their toll on people’s health. 9% of all children die during the first 5 years of their life. A lack of resources and knowledge regarding healthy diets leads to malnutrition and therefore to a reduced growth of the brain which affects the ability to process and record information.
Since a majority of the population is not registered, most do not have an official identity in the form of an identity card, which means they are not entitled to free treatment in hospitals under the provincial health care program (Bali Mandara).
Since these people rely on income from begging, their children are used as "emotional sales support" with the fatal consequence that these children learn a relatively effective system to obtain money. This lays the wrong foundation for their development. Begging externally and the lack of awareness the parents have about the benefits of education has the effect that it prevents the children from attending school.
A variety of interwoven factors therefore causes the population of Muntigunung to live in poverty. Without outside help, it is not possible for the community to escape this poverty and lead an independent life.