Fishermen, farmers, and breeders in Kupang City and Kupang Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, are threatened by severe winds and drought
The impact of climate change on the livelihoods and way of life of every sector within East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) society is substantial. In addition, Kupang City and Kupang Regency are currently under a drought alert and have extremely low precipitation projections. As per the results of a rapid assessment carried out by C4Ledger in two sites on September 2023, the El Nino phenomenon has significantly influenced the lives of individuals.
This circumstance has profoundly affected landowners, livestock cultivators, and fishermen in the coastal regions of Kupang City and Kupang Regency. For example, a reduction in water supply within the agricultural sector gives rise to the potential for drought and subsequent crop failure in rice fields and gardens, ultimately culminating in a food crisis. In addition, the livestock industry is threatened with catastrophe due to inadequate water and feed supplies. Concurrently, the marine fisheries industry encountered decreased harvests due to elevated seawater temperatures and formidable winds threatening fishermen’s operations.
SIGNS OF FOLKLORE
As has been the case this year, prolonged heat and wind indicate to locals that water flow will diminish and possibly dry up rapidly. “According to my observations, there is a difference between last year and this year, namely that the impact will not be visible next month, but usually, if the wind is strong, the water will dry up quickly. If we look at last year, actually this month, there was still water. For example, there is a natural pool on the beach that still has water remaining, but now it is completely dry in August,” said Yusael Ndun, Head of Sumlili Village, Kupang Regency.
Likewise, Amiludin Kaimba – a fisherman in Kupang City – tells of his experience of reading the circumstance through local folklore, “We look at the current. If the current is strong, it means there is wind, and we move to a shady place in the hope that the wind will pass quickly. To get good results, we usually look at the current; fishing when there are waves and the current is good, the results are better, but if in calm water but the current is strong, the results are useless. If the seawater is a murky colour, it means we don’t go down to catch fish because we will definitely only get a little.”
INFLUENCE ON SOCIAL, INTERPERSONAL, AND ECONOMIC INCOME
As a result of the extreme heat and strong winds, the income of farmers, livestock breeders, and fishermen was drastically reduced, and some even lost their employment. Because of the unpredictability of the wind, fishermen are unable to take trips out to sea, thereby affecting family income. “Even the cost of gas is no longer affordable. The income used to be 200,000-300,000 per capture but now the income has decreased to the point that buying oil alone is not enough; only 50,000 because we don’t sail to fish. The temperature of the seawater becomes hot so that fish cannot live near the surface of the seawater.” said Benyamin Bentura, a fisherman.
Operational costs to meet agricultural and livestock needs are increasingly higher compared to the production results obtained. Consequently, there is potential for conflict between residents toward farmers and ranchers. Farmers release their livestock because there is a lack of animal feed, so they enter and eat horticultural agricultural products. Even livestock die from drinking and eating feed that has been sprayed with chemical drugs. Residents must compete with each other for clean water, including fighting over water for irrigation of rice fields and agriculture. As a result, they reported each other to the village government for resolution.
IMPACT OF WORK ON VULNERABLE GROUPS/PEOPLE AND DISABILITIES
Yoseph Klau Berek, who has a visual disability, sells fish to fishermen. His family’s financial demands were greatly met when he could make IDR 200,000-300,000 (USD 12,85-19,28) in the past. Nevertheless, he was either laid off or unable to sell his catch since the fishermen could not withstand the heat and wind. Ultimately, he chose to remain at home.
As a rice farmer, Mama Katharina wishes that the land owned by the farmer could be utilised for cultivating rice. As a land cultivator, she is obligated to the landowner to share three harvests. She spends most of her time managing the water supply, which is becoming increasingly scarce, forcing her into conflicts with other locals. She can provide for her family’s expenses with the IDR 500,000 (USD 32,13) she gets each month from her job.
The following are some recommendations made by C4Ledger in light of the aforementioned situation:
- The government should plan the provision of clean water.
- The construction or development of reservoirs, especially on land used for farming and raising animals, should be done to meet coastal communities’ anticipated future water needs.
- To help coastal inhabitants meet their family’s income and basic needs, the public and private sectors should collaborate to create new business alternatives relevant to the local context.