Notes from the Field: Kampung Tanimbar, Manokwari

Guest Blog by Mega Anggraeni of IUCCE Semarang

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Participants from the climate change adaptation training conducted field visits to collect data and information to assess community vulnerability. Our site was located in Kampung Tanimbar. Our team consisted of various stakeholders including academics and university students, government agency representatives, NGOs, and health workers.

Members of the Kampung Tanimbar Group

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Kampung Tanimbar is one of the more flood-prone areas in Manokwari. It is a small village with close to 500 residents. Before the mid 1990s, the location of the village was actually a forested area. People in the village began moving there, clearing the area, and now the demographics consist of people from the Arfak Mountains, Ambon and Manokwari.

Access Road to Kampung Tanimbar

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Upon arrival at Kampung Tanimbar, we conducted a rapid transect to gather information prior to the focus group discussion (FGD) scheduled with the community. Our approach was to ask questions regarding flood-related information. During the FGD, most of our participants were local mothers and children because most of the men were at work. The men work as construction workers, motorcycle taxi drivers, and some are civil servants.

FGD process

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This is one of the first experiences for this community to conduct a facilitated conversation about flooding. They relayed that this is a very pressing issue for them, and they were especially enthusiastic to convey information to us. We began collecting information using our vulnerability framework approach, examining issues through the lens of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity to floods.

Clean water is also an important issue for Kampung Tanimbar. The community obtains their water from shallow wells with a depth of about 2 meters. This water is muddy however, and people only use the wells for bathing and washing. Everyone has access to electricity, which is also important for pumps to access water. For cooking and drinking purposes, people buy water by the gallon at Rp 10,000 / gallon (about US$ 0.70). Each household uses 1 gallon of water for 2-3 days depending on the number of family members.

Flood Information from the Community at Kampung Tanimbar

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Not long after Kampung Tanimbar became a settlement, in 1998 they experienced flooding. Every year hence, floods occur periodically during the rainy season — from October to January. The height of flooding in Kampung Tanimbar varies between 30 cm in the higher elevation areas to 120 cm depth in the lower elevation areas. Standing water is also highly dependent on rainfall, which also become vectors for mosquito-borne diseases.

In 2014 floods reached 120 cm and required people to evacuate. For shelter, the Tanimbar community seek refuge at the nearby church located in a higher elevated area north of the Kampung. In 2014 the community had to evacuate for 3 days. There were no casualties during the incident but they complained about the disruption it caused. In addition to physical losses of their belongings, people also experienced health problems such as itching, respiratory infection, diarrhea, and malaria.

One Resident Shows Water Height During the 2014 Flood

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As a result of these flood experiences the community have come up with an informal evacuation system. When it rains for an extended period, people begin storing important belongings, including valuable goods, important documents and letters, and clothing into the attic. They also coordinate the placement of motor vehicles at a designated location.

Attics for Storing Valuable Documents and Clothing in the Event of Heavy Rainfall

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In the Kampung Tanimbar area, government disaster programs has also begun to post evacuation signposts and routes.

Evacuation Signboard in Kampung Tanimbar

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Residents with the means to do so have also taken action to protect their homes. In these cases they elevate the structure at the front door with walls and stairs higher than the road. In this way, when the floods arrive, the water is not able to enter their homes up to a certain level. They also have raised the top of their wells to stop flood water intrusion. The government also built a 220-meter-long wall along the edge of a drainage pass through the Kampung Tanimbar. The wall has helped to reduce flood impacts, but only to a certain extent.

Elevating Homes to Avoid Flooding

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Our FGD lasted only about 2 hours. In a short time we had learned a lot. We also had additional time to conduct more targeted interviews and also walk transects through different areas of the Kampung. Over the next few days we worked on compiling all of this detailed information into a presentation of the rapid vulnerability assessment. We hope that presenting this information to the local government will also help to improve efforts to reduce flooding in Manokwari.

 

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