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Documenting climate change in Indonesia

© Plan International. Igen and his friends.

August 2013: Together with 2 other children, Igen is a peer educator in his village in Lembata, Indonesia. He participated in a study trip to the Indonesian island of Bali to learn about climate change adaptation and practical skills such as how to make biogas fuel or provide first aid after a disaster.

This is all part of Plan’s Child Centred Climate Change Adaptation (4CA), a 3-year project supported by AusAID taking place in 10 countries across the Asia-Pacific Region. It aims to build the awareness of children and young people about climate change and empower them to be agents of change in their communities.

The impact of climate change is all too apparent to Igen and communities in Lembata. Harvest seasons are increasingly unpredictable and the sea level appears to be rising around their communities.

“Now from the field we can only harvest 1 or 2 sacks of corn. Many crop fields are failing. Farmers are not sure when they have to plant. From the elders we learnt corn harvesting used to be in March, but now in May it is still raining,” says Igen.

Documenting the evidence

Igen is using his photography training to document the impacts of climate change. Documenting his perspective on how climate change is affecting his village is a powerful message, and one that he hopes to share with leaders and policy decision-makers.

“On the beach, there is a coconut tree that used to grow, but over a few years it is already far out to sea and now it’s dead,” adds Igen.

Planning ahead

On the other side of Indonesia, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is being incorporated in local government planning.

The North Central Timor local government recently asked all villages to examine and map their surrounding environment. The purpose was to identify areas at risk of landslides and erosion before the rainy season began. A detailed map of each community was created, locating areas for reforestation and disaster risk reduction. It will be used as a guideline of disaster contingency planning.

Climate change is an intergenerational issue. Adults and policymakers often focus on the now. The perspective and participation of children, who are always looking into the future, is invaluable. In the dialogue of advocacy and change, there is a huge added value that children can bring to the table.

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