Guest Blog by Dr. Kem Lowry
Kelurahan Bastiong Karance is a community in south Ternate nearby the terminal for the Tidore ferry. It is comprised of 10 Rukun Tetangga [or wards] and covers an area of about 1.2 square km. Bastiong was chosen to be one of four communities on Terante and Tidore in which participants in a course on urban climate change adaptation could conduct a “vulnerability assessment” that would identify areas of the community exposed to climate change related threats, such as flooding, both now and in the foreseeable future. Another aim of the vulnerability assessment was to identify community “assets”, such as schools, health facilities, and critical infrastructure that because of their location and type of construction would be particularly sensitive to increases in the frequency or severity of floods and other climate-related threats. Finally, course participants hoped to be able to make a preliminary assessment of how “resilient” the community is in responding to the potential of increased frequency and severity of climate-related threats and how local resilience might be strengthened.
The formal part of the vulnerability assessment began with a July 30 morning meeting of course participants and some Khairun University students with RT leaders. The RT leaders described social, economic and environmental conditions in Bastiong. Regarding natural hazards, they identified intermittent flooding as a continuing problem afflicting some RT more than others depending on topography and the quality of local drainage. They attributed worsening flooding problems in Bastiong to the dumping of solid waste in drainage canals in the upper watershed.
Clogged drains that lead to regular inundations
After lunch, course participants walked through the community to observe community conditions and interview residents about socio-economic and hazard conditions. Their purpose was both to get a general sense of community conditions and, more specifically, to identify areas exposed to disaster risks, people and places that are particularly sensitive to disaster risks and the capacity of households, the community and government to adapt to disaster risks.
Bastiong is a densely-populated settlement [4,635 people per sq. km.] sub-divided into hundreds of little house lots and smaller settlements by local roads, drainage canals and ditches and small lanes, some of which are barely more than a meter in width. Houses vary in the quality of building material, but many are built of concrete or bricks. A substantial number, particularly those closer to the ocean, have two levels, allowing residents to evacuate upward in the case of minor local flooding. Drainage canals contain plastic bottles, building materials and other solid waste as much as a meter deep in some parts of the community. The shoreline in the environs of the ferry terminal is heavily armored by concrete and stonewalls. A local road and an open strip several meters wide are located between the seawall and shorefront housing. Small open-air food stands located in the open space serve local workers and visitors. A number of new two-story houses and commercial buildings have been built or are under construction along the shore which suggests that residents perceive increased or more severe flooding or storm surges to be low risk events.
From their observations and interviews, participants confirmed what they had learned from RT officials: flooding from drainage canals and occasional storm surges was a nuisance to some and a more serious economic and health threat to others. In addition to the direct economic costs of home repair and replacement of damaged property, some areas have pockets of individuals suffering from malaria perceived as associated with poorly drained areas of the community They were able to create a map of areas currently exposed to periodic flooding and a map of the area likely to be flooded in the event of sea-level rise of one meter.
Participants were also able to create a map of critical community facilities, such as mosques and schools, some of which are located in flood-prone areas. Participants also made some preliminary assessments of the adaptive capacity of households, the community and government. They reported that some households were adapting to flooding by raising their houses on higher foundations. At the community level, they suggested that the traditional practice of community self-help [gotong royong] insures that households will help each other prepare for and recover from disaster events such as floods. Governmental adaptive activities have focused on strengthening the shoreline area and flood-proofing government buildings.
Based on their assessment participants recommended that programs be created to educate residents of the impacts of dumping waste in canals and to encourage more responsible waste management practices at the neighborhood and community level. They also recommended better spatial planning in the area to insure proper drainage and reduce building patterns that contribute to flooding.