Partners for Resilience communities share knowledge, innovations at South-South Community Based Development Academy

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Kupang, Timor, Indonesia – Representatives from 30 communities from our coastal and inland Partners for Resilience villages in Flores and West Timor, NTT  Indonesia, shared their traditional knowledge and innovations at the ‘South-South Community Based Development Academy’ (SSCBDA), held from May 21 – 23 2012 in Kupang, Timor, Indonesia.

This ‘community academy’, initiated by UNDP bridges the gap between global and local efforts in disaster risk reduction, bringing local communities, scientists, policy & decision makers and NGOs together to exchange global perspectives and local experiences.

th SSCBDA was organized by Partners for Resilience Indonesia: Wetlands International Indonesia Program and its partners from Red Cross, CARE, Cordaid and Red Cross Climate Centre.

Sharing knowledge and innovations

Of the total 160 participants, there were 40 representatives from 30 communities of 5 districts in Flores & Timor, a drought prone, semi -arid region, shared their traditional knowledge and innovations in relation to water harvesting, alternative energy, adaptive agriculture, local strategies to prepare for flood and restoration of mangrove ecosystems through the bio-rights approach. Important part of the conference was the Market Place where communities could sell their products, e.g. honey, dried fish and salt harvested from the mangroves and show their innovative low-technology low-cost methods for water harvesting and energy from biogas.

Building coastal resilience in Flores through Bio-rights

 Wetlands International Indonesia works with 187 households/communities in 6coastal villages and 1 upland village in Flores. Our local field facilitators educate them on the importance of mangrove ecosystems for their livelihoods such as fisheries, agriculture (prevents salt water intrusion) but also for their safety, as mangrove forests can prevent coastal erosion and act as a buffer against storms and floods.  Our Indonesia team trains the communities in the techniques to prepare and plant seedlings and maintenance of a replanted mangrove site. The communities sign a contract with Wetlands International Indonesia: in return for their time investment they receive a conditional loan which will become a grant once, after 3 years, the mangroves have a good survival rate. In many cases this loan is partly invested in a community managed revolving fund for the entire community to benefit.

Community representatives from Wetlands International Indonesia project sites shared their experiences in the working group on bio-rights, one of the five thematic groups. One woman said: ‘even when we did not yet have a contract we already started planting the mangroves. They are so important for our village’. One other community member mentioned the 1992 tsunami which hit the north coast of Flores. He said he wants his villages to be protected in case another tsunami will hit them in the future.

Strong interest in our Bio-rights approach

Local government, university, NGOs and also representatives from FAO and National Climate Change Council, showed strong interest in our Bio-rights approach as a way to ensures long term commitment of local communities to ecosystem restoration and management. Many large scale mangrove restoration projects failed so far, as there was no adequate financial incentive mechanism involved and the communities left the site after replanting.

After the conference a field visit was made by 12 PfR staff from Philippines, Netherlands and Indonesia to 3 of the total 8 sites where Wetlands International Indonesia is working on community-based mangrove restoration.