Drought Risk Reduction in Indonesia: Actions and Issues

Commissioned Report

Although drought is not on top priority, El Nino and other localized drought events are warning signs for strengthening drought risk reduction in Indonesia. Drought risk reduction in Indonesia can be improved both at the macro and micro level. At the micro-level, even though the microfinance has been growing rapidly, it needs improvements in areas of women empowerment (largely due to cultural issues but are also linked to lack of education) and improving the business management skills of microfinance beneficiaries (the respondents of the microfinance programs opined their incomes are now more vulnerable to market fluctuations than the weather) needs specific attention. In addition, microfinance agencies need capacity building in areas of diversification of activities from mere lenders of finances to be able to impart business management and livelihood diversification skills to their members. Small-scale programs such as construction/rehabilitation of local ponds or small dams should be further promoted. Drought-related forest fires are a major cause of concern in Indonesia and there is a need to find a way to address forest fires with focus from response to preparedness and mitigation and capacity building of local institutions and communities in advanced fire prevention and mitigation methods.
At the macro level, Indonesia is yet to put in place a real-time El Nino monitoring facility that will help the government to put in place preparedness measures. In addition, the development of programs promoting watershed development including water conservation, increasing water storage capacity, crop diversification with improved agricultural practices needs to be put in place especially in the remote drought prone areas of Indonesia. Promoting distributed micro irrigation systems and rejuvenating and maintaining the freshwater aquifers in combination with preserving natural environment through afforestation and better forest management could reduce the drought risks in remote areas with undulated topographies. In addition, due to the severe impacts of drought-associated forest fires, its mitigation programs need to be promoted consisting of capacity building of communities in better land management practices with forest fire monitoring and forecasts to enable better preparedness. Addressing land tenure issues and capacity building in better forest and land management practices could mitigate the forest fires in the long run. The government of Indonesia has started the pilot program on crop insurance in 2013 but the program has only concentrated in the Sumatra and Java islands leaving behind the drought-prone regions of East and West Nusa Tenggara. There is a need to expand the crop insurance programs to these needy provinces as well.