Monday, August 29, 2011

From drought to floods in Indonesia

IRIN: Erratic weather has exacerbated food insecurity in one of Indonesia's driest regions, leaving farmers and families hoping for the best as October's planting season approaches. "I have a feeling this year we will be OK," Maria Talan, 63, an elder in the remote village of Noenoni, in the district of West Timor (TTS), told IRIN, already looking forward to next April's harvest.

Talan's optimism comes on the heels of severe and unexpected flooding in 2010 that washed out her village's one harvest and left people at times filling their plates with leaves and seeds. Although Nusa Tengarra Timor (NTT) province is notoriously dry, with only four months of rain a year, the government estimates 80 percent of the 4.5 million people toil away on often rocky, unfertile plots to survive, with little other industry to generate an income.

"The condition of the land is a problem, but last year we had extreme weather in October at planting time and the corn harvest, our main crop, failed," said Antonius Efi, an activist for Yakibu, a local organization promoting the rights of women and children in Kefamenanu, the capital of North Central Timor (TTU), the district neighbouring TTS.

According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), ongoing deforestation, a leading cause of flooding, is largely to blame for the rainfall fluctuation that TTS and TTU residents describe. NTT province has one of the highest concentrations of deforestation in Indonesia, according to the report....

Water and soil in West Timor, 1937, from the Tropenmuseum Collection via Wikimedia Commons

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