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Climate Justice from the Bottom-Up: Case Studies from Indonesia

February 22nd, 2011 | Posted by Jen Marlow in Blog

By Guest Blogger and Climate Justice Seminar Student Linda Sulistiawati. Linda is a PhD Student at the University of Washington School of Law, visiting the US on a Fulbright. Back home in Indonesia, Linda is a Lecturer at the Universitas Gadjah Mada, Faculty of Law.

Around 36 million people in Indonesia live below the poverty line. Seventeen percent earn an income of less than $1/day. Ten million of the poorest people in Indonesia have forest-based livelihoods.

In relation to the current issue of Climate Justice, the government of Indonesia and donors are working together to foster adaptation strategies in local communities. In the two examples below, climate adaptation projects are focused on ensuring a sustainable livelihood for forest dependent communities. Goals are to increase the communities’ resilience in facing climate change impacts, especially with respect to crop resilience and food security.

EXAMPLE ONE

Gender-Oriented Development of Local Economies through the Field School for Forest Communities: Investing in Household-based Industries

Increases in personal income from community-based forest management projects have not been considered a mutual interest by various (public and private) sectors. In addition, participation in these projects has been dominated by men. Since the project leaders are not sufficiently aware of the significant roles of women among forest communities, the needs of these women have not been accommodated in the design of technical activities. Thus, women have had little involvement in supporting a functional forestry community institution for forest management mechanisms, in the management scheme for the management units, and in developing businesses originating from forest products.

A community in Sukabumi, West Java, working together with LATIN, a local NGO, is developing its nontimber forest products (NTFP) by empowering women forest and farmer groups to start their own home production of cassava, peanuts, ginger, herbs and the like, as well as edible snacks of chips and instant drinks to increase the community’s income. Crops are carefully selected; those chosen are the more resilient to lack of rainfall. This program increased the revenue generated by the community-based forest management project to Rp.150,000 ($16.50 USD) per capita per month.

The community is working together to harvest ginger in their plots. Ginger is an ‘alternate’ plant which is resilient to shortage of water. It is used as a local herb, and the harvest will be sold in the local market. Location: Sumberjaya, Lampung, Indonesia. Courtesy of SGP PTF Indonesia, 2007.

Results: Increased Resilience to Climate Impacts

  1. With the increase of community capacity to manage forest in a sustainable approach, the community will now manage a new, wider forest area. This step alone will assist the community in dealing with an increasing lack of food in the area. A model of community-based forest management has produced a model for a sustainable forest management.
  2. Developing a field school is the best method to increase the capacity of women in the project area. The field school functions as a positive story for promoting forest management policies that empower women.
  3. It is a fact that the food and drink sold in the field is still in favour of large company products instead of household-based products. Decision-makers should follow this model and promote policies that provide household industries the opportunity to compete more easily in the market.
  4. The existence of group cooperatives, which already have the capacity to increase group investment and also to provide good services to the community from within the community, provide incentives for the further development of micro-finance development projects at the village level.
  5. Household-based industries have resulted in increased employment opportunities in the villages.
  6. The development of household-based industries in the villages will become a reliable barometer of the health of the village economy.  These industries will increase household income in the villages. An increase in the personal income of the villagers will increase the community’s savings on the whole—an important factor for climate resilience.
  7. New sources of income generation and the increase in community saving ability will reduce the threat of deforestation in the village.

EXAMPLE TWO

Local Economic Development and Environmental Conservation in Sumber Jaya and Way Tenong

In Indonesia’s West Lampung District (495,040 hectares, 394,084 inhabitants), the subdistricts of Sumber Jaya and Way Tenong have relatively high deforestation levels. Both subdistricts are positioned on the upper part of the Tulangbawang water catchment area. Watala, a local NGO, is working in this area to enhance the livelihood of the local communities.

The communities in these subdistricts heavily depend on agroforestry products, such as coffee, pepper, and fruits cultivated around and within the protected forest areas, as well as vegetables to a lesser degree. Although the market for commercial fruits and vegetables in Lampung is promising, the poor local farmers have been unable to make use of the opportunity.  Existing formal financial institutions have denied them loans. When banks do provide loans, the loans are high-interest loans and, hence, some of the farmers must risk obtaining loans from informal financial lenders. Facing such a difficult situation, community members generally clear forest areas for new cultivation of land or take part in illegal logging that extends the deforested area.

One local economic development and conservation project sponsored by Watala aims to alleviate poverty in Sumber Jaya and Way Tenong by extending the economic base to in turn support environmental conservation. The goal of the project is to provide wider economic options for community who live in or surround protected forest areas without sacrificing the quality of the local environment. The activities are part of a government program to include the community in managing a forest in a sustainable manner.

The local community built the microhydro machine pictured above, which gave a needed push to local irrigation while managing to produce some electricity for nearby neighborhoods. Location: Sumberjaya, Lampung, Indonesia. Courtesy of SGP PTF Indonesia, 2007.

Results: Increased Local Participation in Decisions Affecting Local Communities
  1. The remote village community’s perspective is respected.  This project has transferred knowledge to village communities, thereby prioritizing their understanding of their area, their right to live in the area, and their use of science and technology to improve local living conditions. The project activities have also broadened the perspective of residents living in remote villages..
  2. The community is a central subject of development. Project activities have placed the forest communities at the center of development policies. Building on local knowledge, wisdom, and traditions for managing natural resources, and also the villagers’ perspectives on managing natural resources in a sustainable manner for the future, the activities of this project have confirmed that the local communities are important actors and managers of community and environment development projects.
  3. The community’s role in managing their environment is strengthened. Activities of the project, especially organic farming activities, have strengthened the role of community in managing their environment, and their resilience to climate change impacts.
  4. The community’s local capacity increased. Various project-based trainings, workshops, and excursions (study tours, for example) have increased capacity of the communities in the villages to manage their community resources for the future.
  5. Stimulated dialogue among a variety of stakeholders increased local institutional capacity. Activities of the project have strengthened organizational capacity in the village, especially among local community groups.
  6. Provides proof that communities are capable of managing and utilizing natural resources in their local villages in a sustainable and safe manner. Project outcomes have successfully proven that communities are highly capable of running their own economic activities, and utilizing and managing their environment in a sustainable manner. Policy makers endorsing community-based forestry management projects should use the success stories from Sumber Jaya and Way Tenong to promote wider-scale implementation of community forestry to other parts of Indonesia.

The measures discussed in the two examples above not only build local resilience to harmful climate impacts but also, they testify to the importance of building climate justice from the bottom up.

    A community meeting where villagers discussed the availability and possibility of producing organic compost from local crops grown in the community. Location: Buniwangi, West Java, Indonesia. Courtesy of SGP PTF Indonesia, 2007.

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    About the Photo

    Top-left: Swells rise in the Bay of Bengal and splash into Nuzahan Bibi’s rice field, which, as global temperatures rise and sea level climbs, becomes an ever more precarious means of support for the widowed Bangladeshi. © Peter Essick

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