Staff on the climate crisis frontline: Meet Indar

This week, as climate negotiations take place at the UN’s COP27 summit, we sit down with Indar from our local partner in Indonesia, CWS, to discuss how climate change is already impacting communities there, and how the team are working together with local farmers to help protect their homes and livelihoods as the climate changes around them. 

“I really enjoy my work”. Indarwati, Senior Project Officer with our local partner in Indonesia, CWSI, assists local farmers in flood-affected areas to plant and harvest peanuts. Geoff Robinson / Act for Peace

“My name is Indarwati Palembangan…but you can call me Indar.” 

Meet Indar. She lives in Palu in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia and has been working locally with our partner, Church World Service Indonesia (CWSI), for 23 years.  

That’s right – 23 years! 

Not only does Indar have a wealth of local knowledge, as a Senior Project Officer, she knows CWSI’s DREAM project (which stands for Disaster Resilience through Enhanced Adaptive Measures), inside out.

What local staff in Indonesia say about climate change

“The community recognise and believe in climate change and it is becoming hard”, Indar says.

“The impact of climate change on our community includes decreasing water availability, changing crop productivity, and increasing intensity of disasters in Indonesia.” 

“Dry seasons and irregular rainy seasons, changes in the amount of rain – it’s difficult and less predictable than before.” 

How communities in Indonesia are working together to adapt to a changing climate

To deal with these impacts, Indar and her team are implementing the DREAM 2 project in the Sigi District of Central Sulawesi, now in its second iteration after having success in a nearby village.   

With your support, and the help of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), the DREAM 2 project is educating communities with new farming and livelihood skills so they can continue to earn an income. 

This demonstration plot in Bulubete village has served as a learning medium for farmers participating in the DREAM 2 project, allowing them to reuse flood-damaged land. Geoff Robinson / Act for Peace

Helping farmers affected by climate-driven floods through peanut harvesting

“Bulubete village is one of the villages where floods occur almost every year”, Indar says.

“Sand and other debris are frequently carried by flood waters as they move. Large amounts of sand and other debris may be left behind, contaminating agricultural land and preventing people from using it for farming.” 

“When this happens, people can no longer cultivate their land and end up looking for other jobs in the city to support their families.”

“Because of this problem,” she says, “we proposed that the community creates a demonstration plot as a trial, so they can reuse sandy land using conservation farming techniques with the addition of solid organic fertilizer, and clay soil is planted with peanuts.”

“The addition of solid organic fertiliser and clay soil is planted with peanuts. peanuts can be harvested when they are 110 days old.” Planting 50g of peanut seeds produces 15kg of peanut seed, and the harvest will be used to provide farmers with organic peanut seed to plant on their own land.”

This demonstration plot has served as a learning medium for farmers participating in the DREAM 2 project, allowing them to reuse flood-damaged land.

Leaders at COP27 need to look to communities and local staff like Indar for climate solutions

While we await to hear the outcomes of this year’s COP27 climate negotiations, including whether developed nations will scale up funding for communities being ravaged by climate impacts, we will continue to find through the passion and dedication of local staff like Indar. 

Communities on the climate crisis frontline are leading the way; our leaders need to look to them, their knowledge and their experiences to take more urgent action.  

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