Residents of the Ngadirejo village in Sukaharjo regency, Central Java Province, Indonesia, had often found themselves helpless when their wells dried up or water flooded through their homes. But thanks to a national campaign called Program Kampung Iklim, known by its acronym ProKlim, they now have solutions to this flooding that generally occurs because of a lack of adequate water catchments.
“We started planting biopore holes and erecting infiltration wells in early 2016 to harvest rainwater and wastewater. The results have been almost instantaneous – our wells have never run out of water and floods never visited us again since 2017,” Serono Arief Wijaya told IPS from Ngadirejo, which lies around a one-hour flight east of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.
As climate change hits home, Indonesia has frequently experienced drought and heavy rainfall, with reports of water scarcity, floods, landslides, and crop failures becoming common. In 2012, the government introduced Program Kampung Iklim, which literally means Climate Village Programme, to raise public awareness towards global warming and to assist people at the grassroots level to draw up adaptation and mitigation plans.
While attending a seminar organised by the local office of Environment and Forestry Department in December 2015, leaders of Ngadirejo, according to Wijaya, heard the word global warming and ProKlim for the first time. The following year community leaders decided to plant biopore holes along Ngadirejo’s drainage network and build infiltration wells throughout the neighbourhood in adaptation and mitigation efforts.
“We now have around 600 biopore holes, each measuring one metre deep and eight centimetres wide, and 50 infiltration wells measuring one metre deep and three metres wide each,” said Wijaya, who heads Ngadirejo’s ProKlim campaign.
“Many residents who had access to piped water previously now harvest groundwater instead for their daily needs,” he added.
Up until 2016, only between 10 to 15 percent of Ngadirejo residents had access to piped water, with the remainder reliant on artesian wells only. According to 2020 figures, the village has some 3,000 families – slightly over 10,000 people.
Aside from harvesting rainwater, Ngadirejo residents have also been converting their organic waste into compost and are selling this to private companies. They are also planting vegetables in their backyards and on unused land as part of the community’s urban farming activity.
They also use LED light bulbs and automatic sensors to switch lights on or off when needed and have planted trees with the slogan “one house, one big tree”.
“We have also designated a section of our village as a tourist destination and training centre where we explain our ProKlim actions to visitors or conduct training on how to make biopore holes, infiltration wells, fertiliser, or anything related to adaptation and mitigation actions,” Wijaya said.
Hardi Buhairat, a 50-year-old resident of Poleonro in Bone regency, South Sulawesi Province — a three-hour flight east of Jakarta, expressed a similar sentiment when talking about the ProKlim programme being implemented in his village.
“ProKlim has brought the Lita River back to life and we are very happy about that. The river is our only source of water for household consumption and farming but there were times it could no longer irrigate our fields. Its water debit has returned and is stable throughout the year,” Buhairat, who is head of Poleonro’s ProKlim programme, told IPS.
The village started implementing ProKlim solutions in 2015, kicking it off with series of meetings with residents where they discussed climate change and the actions community members could take to avert its adverse impacts.
“The first things we did was issuing a village ordinance banning the residents from cutting trees and harvesting woods in and around Lita River’s spring. Soon after that, we planted thousands of trees in deforested areas around the spring,” said Buhairat, who is also Poleonro’s chief.
Poleonro’s village leaders also issued two other ordinances; one banning residents from burning rice straw and farms after harvest.
The 2019 Pollution and Health Metrics: Global, Regional and Country Analysis report from the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) ranks Indonesia as the fourth in the world in terms of annual premature pollution-related deaths, after the populous nations of India, China and Nigeria.
The second ordinance requires residents to replace any tree they cut down in customary forests.
“The latter ordinance allows them to harvest trees in their customary forests but also orders them to plant new trees to replace the ones they cut. To ensure that they comply the rule, we inspect their forests regularly,” Buhairat said.
The residents also planted biopore holes to store rainwater underground, built wells to filter household wastewater before it goes into the river, and treated waste, converting organic waste into compost.
“Since 2015, we encouraged the residents to have indoor toilets. We are glad all households now have their own toilets indoors,” Buhairat said.
Buhairat said Poleonro villagers have also begun to diversify their food crops as part of their food security action.
“Our farmers planted organic red rice for the first time in 2018. We are now looking for buyers before going on a large-scale production. We want organic red rice to be our specialty commodity,” he said.
Since ProKlim’s launch in 2012, over 2,700 villages in 33 provinces have been registered as climate villages, according to Sri Tantri Arundhati, Director of Climate Change Adaptation of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. In 2020, six of those villages, including Ngadirejo and Poleonro, received the ProKlim Lestari Trophy, the highest accolade for a climate village programme, from the Ministry.
Arundhati said the government now aims to establish 20,000 climate villages, which constitute roughly 25 percent of the country’s 83,000 villages, by 2024.
“We will cooperate with other stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and the private sector, and improve coordination with local governments and related departments. We will also work to improve the capacity of local governments and people at the grassroots level,” she told IPS.
Arundhati said her Ministry has also asked registered climate villages to promote ProKlim and help other communities design their adaptation and mitigation actions. Wijaya confirmed Ngadirejo village has been encouraged to help other communities implement ProKlim.
“We are now helping 44 villages in Central Java where we explain about global warming and help residents there identify adaptation and mitigation actions they could take to deal with climate change-related problems in their community,” Wijaya said.
Buhairat said Poleonro is now guiding 15 villages in South Sulawesi to become climate villages.
Rizaldi Boer of the state-owned Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) said ProKlim could help the government achieve the country’s nationally determined contribution (NDCs) agreed according to the Paris Agreement.
“The programme can help a lot in dealing with climate change as it encourages active participation of people at the grassroots level,” said Boer, who is also director of the Centre for Climate Risk and Opportunity Management in Southeast Asia and Pacific.
“However, the government should establish a standardised report mechanism on ProKlim actions, particularly how to calculate its contribution to greenhouse gas emission reduction,” Boer told IPS.
Under the country’s NDCs, Indonesia has committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent with its own initiatives and 41 percent with external financial and technical assistance by 2030.
Boer also praised the government’s ambitious target of establishing 20,000 climate villages by 2024.
“It is a tall order but it is not impossible. However, it requires participation of governments at all levels and all stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and the private sector,” he said. (IPS)