Saturday, June 2, 2012

Climate change drives exodus to Jakarta

Kafil Yamin in Jakarta Globe: ...Many residents of Indramayu, one of Indonesia’s “rice bowls,” are seasonal migrants to the city where there are opportunities to earn cash by pedaling becaks, running street food stalls and working as construction laborers.

Indramayu’s women, too, are part of the exodus to the cities, working the nightspots, massage houses and the entertainment businesses. Those who are not so lucky end up as domestic workers. Either way, they are vulnerable to violence and sexual abuse.

The shuttling between Indramayu and Jakarta is dictated by the rice cropping cycles. The last months of the year, September, October, November and December, referred to as the “ber” period for the last syllable of those months, form the rainy season when rice seedlings are planted.

Four months later, the paddy is ready for harvest – at least that used to be the case until the cycle began to go awry with changing climate and erratic rainfall. “We can no longer tell when it is going to start raining or when the rice is ready for harvesting, and so we just continue working in the city until we are sure,” says Sarjo. “It costs money and time travelling between Indramayu and Jakarta.”

Over the last few years, rice crops have been failing in Indramayu not only because of dry conditions but also because unseasonal downpours have inundated paddies, affecting the quality and quantity of harvests....

Locator map of Indramayu, the province of West Java in Indonesia, by Wic2020, Wikimedia Commons,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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