Monday, June 4, 2007

Jakartans to be taught how to adapt to climate change

The Jakarta The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) is set to run campaigns in various areas in the capital to inform residents about how to deal with risks associated with climate change. The PMI's head of Disaster Management, Arifin Muh. Hadi, said at least 40,000 Jakartans will take part in the initial stages of the climate change adaptation program.

"We want to boost the community's awareness about climate change and encourage people to be prepared for and adapt to the extreme changes that are expected," Arifin told The Jakarta Post on Saturday. The community-based disaster preparedness project will be conducted in Kampung China, Kampung Melayu and Cawang in East Jakarta and in Rawa Buaya in West Jakarta next month. These areas are among the city's most vulnerable locations during the city's annual floods.

He said the PMI will integrate climate change adaptation methods into disaster preparedness and risk reduction through empowering communities to use their own skills. "We are deeply concerned about climate change because it is really happening. It makes extreme weather conditions such as floods, droughts, typhoons and water-borne diseases more common," he said. He said 53 percent, or 1,429, of the natural disasters to have occurred across the country in the last two years were climate-hydrological related disasters.

"The sharp increase in dengue fever cases reported in the capital is also most likely due to climate change," he said. PMI Jakarta encountered blood storage shortages early this year due to an unexpected surge in demand for blood due to dengue fever. "We will teach communities in simple and practical ways how to adapt to the increasing risk of disease. For example, we will encourage people to put fish in ponds to reduce the amount of mosquito larvae," he said.

Arifin said the PMI will also educate communities on how to minimize the impact of the city's annual floods. Climate change is currently one of the most crucial environmental threats to low-lying areas such as those in Northern Jakarta situated below sea level. Experts have predicted that human-induced climate change will contribute to a rise in sea level due to earth's temperature rising, which will in turn lengthen drought periods.

However, the Jakarta administration is yet to take action to raise public awareness on how to adapt to climate change, largely due to a lack of resources. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's top authority on the issue, has called on world leaders to take adaptive measures. Such measures include limiting new buildings along threatened coastlines, building corridors to allow threatened species to migrate and improving water conservation. The panel said disaster preparedness and health care systems should be improved to reduce the vulnerability of developing nations due to climate change.

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