July 23, 2016
Today we arrived in Ternate, North Maluku to work with partners Khairun University. In the upcoming week we will conduct a joint workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. Khairun University’s disaster study center has created a forum with four other universities in North Maluku to begin building a network across Eastern Indonesia on disaster risk reduction. The idea is to build capacity among local governments to identify vulnerability and risk, and increase adaptive capacity. Furthermore, the disaster study center works to expand the study of disasters.
We will be sharing more about the workshop throughout the coming week.
North Maluku has a long history, particularly for its importance in the spice trade. The different sultanates of the region once had far-reaching influence and remain an important aspect of cultural identity. Nutmeg, clove, and other spice groves continue to form an integral part of the regional economy. The spice trees can be seen growing on the hillsides, and the harvests, often dried along roadsides create wafts of unique aromas.
Ternate, and the North Maluku regional geography consist of numerous small islands shaped by powerful volcanic activity. Settlement areas in Ternate sit beneath the extremely active Gamalama volcano. Gamalama often develops, what locals call a strong “cough.” In the mid 19th century an eruption destroyed the city. Recent major eruptions occurred in 1980, 1983, 1994, and 2011. Although the threat of a destructive volcanic event looms with limited evacuation options, discussions with residents reveal that they are much more preoccupied with everyday development challenges, such as: drainage and flooding, water quality and availability, housing, and economic opportunity.
With a population of over 200,000 in an area just 250 square km, the city is densely populated and continues to grow. Sprawling settlements reach higher into the upper catchment areas and build closer into flat areas within ravines. The city is also experiencing rapid growth since North Maluku became a province in 1999. Attempts were made to move the city to Sofifi, but people are reluctant to leave the strategic location of Ternate City.
Next weekend we will be conducting rapid vulnerability assessments with four villages. We hope to learn much more about the drivers and dynamics of hazard and risk, and to work with local partners to collaboratively think about increasing resilience.