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USAID to help Indonesia with disaster mitigation amid global warming

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2024

Nina A. Loasana, Jakarta – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed to helping Indonesia improve its capacity to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis, as the country sees more and more natural disasters triggered by global warming.

USAID Indonesia mission director Jeffery Cohen said the organization was working with local communities, NGOs and the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) to improve disaster resilience across the vast archipelago.

"We work with communities in the upper watershed to ensure that they protect their water sources and plant trees so when heavy rainfall hits, there won't be flooding downstream," Jeffery said on Wednesday during an event in Jakarta to commemorate 20 years of Indonesia-US disaster response partnership.

"We also cooperate with local organizations to train villagers on how to respond quickly when disaster strikes. We teach villagers where and how to evacuate and how to save their livestock," he added.

According to Jeffery, the US is seeking to work with Indonesian authorities to protect urban environments by building more parks and planting more trees in cities to capture carbon emissions.

USAID also plans to contribute to Indonesia's efforts to restore 600,000 hectares of degraded mangrove – an area larger than Bali – to protect the country's coastal areas.

In recent years, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has been advancing Indonesia's mangrove restoration efforts as he seeks to improve the country's emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement.

Mangroves have the capacity to absorb more carbon than terrestrial forests, and a study conducted in Indonesia suggests that the government's plan to restore mangroves from 2020 to 2030 could prevent the release of 8.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year. That number could rise to 32 million tonnes annually if the authorities also prevent the degradation of the mangrove ecosystem.

To further strengthen public resilience against disasters triggered by climate change, Jeffery of USAID advised the Indonesian government to provide "climate insurance" for residents and their properties, especially for fishermen, whose livelihoods greatly depend on the state of the ocean.

"Hopefully all of these efforts can mitigate some of the negative effects of climate change and we can better protect more people, save more lives and protect more livelihoods," he said.

This year, USAID allocated a total of US$7 million for disaster risk reduction and mitigation efforts across Indonesia.

The BNPB noted that Indonesia had seen a rising number of disasters in recent years, with the agency recording a total of 5,400 disasters in 2023, a sharp increase from the 1,694 disasters recorded in 2015. Roughly 90 percent were meteorological disasters linked to the climate crisis.

A study by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) found that Indonesia could suffer Rp 544 trillion ($36 billion) in economic losses in the 2020-2024 period as a result of the climate crisis.

Around 80 percent of those losses are expected to be caused by coastal damage, and the rest by declines in agricultural production and clean water supply.

Admiral Samuel Paparo, the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) commander, who also attended Wednesday's event, said the US military had been helping Indonesia better predict weather patterns and be prepared for future disasters.

"The US' Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command has the supercomputer capability to better understand climate patterns and ocean rise, and we have been sharing that information [with the Indonesian authorities] so that we can better predict where and when El Nino and La Nina weather phenomenon will occur," he said.

El Nino generally brings hotter and drier weather to eastern Australia and Southeast Asia, as well as wetter conditions to the Americas. La Nina, meanwhile, has the opposite effect.

Paparo added that for decades, the US military had been working closely with the Indonesian government in disaster mitigation and relief, including after the 2004 tsunami in Aceh that killed some 250,000 people.

The US provided aid in various forms to the people of Aceh following the devastating incident, including food, medical supplies and temporary shelter. It also built roads and taught the disaster-stricken residents various skills, such as coffee planting, to revive the local economy.

Paparo further revealed that the US military and the Indonesian Military (TNI) were planning to include training on providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in their annual joint exercises scheduled for August.

Source: https://asianews.network/usaid-to-help-indonesia-with-disaster-mitigation-amid-global-warming