Jayapura, Jubi – The largest land in Indonesia that has not been fully exploited is the forests and land of Papua.
Forest in Indonesia, from the study of Forest Wacht Indonesia in Sumatra and Borneo, has been used for plantation and transmigration, which largest areas are for oil palm plantations. Now the palm oil expansion is going to the eastern part of Indonesia, and Papua is the main target.
Indonesia pushed palm oil production by expanding the land used for plantations. No wonder that currently Indonesia has the largest oil palm plantation in the world. The total area are now reach is 16.1 million ha (Sawit Watch 2017) with income earned from this sector is over 200 Trillion rupiah.
In 2017 this sector has contributed more than 18 billion USD or equivalent to the oil and gas sector which in the same period also generated about 18 billion USD. The high revenue from this sector has an impact on the governments incessant permit for investors, regardless the impact of the expansion.
Sawit Watch notes that the serious and most frequent impacts of oil palm expansion in Indonesia today are endless land conflicts. The absence of transparency in the licensing process and absence of clear and measurable plans for the sector have resulted in an easy access of permit for oil palm plantations in Indonesia today.
“The consequence of this conflict is criminalization of communities who defend their land, open up conflicts between communities and companies protected by security forces,” said Maryo Saputra, Head of Sawit Watch Campaign in a joint press conference with Walhi Papua in Jayapura end of the year.
Maryo who is in charge of Monitoring and observation in Sawit Watch said, Sumatra or Kalimantan has no longer become priority for oil palm plantation development. They have moved to Eastern Indonesia: Maluku, Sulawesi, West Papua and Papua. The process of land transferring, from forest and community livelihood (customs or local) to oil palm plantations is currently taking place, and one of them is in Papua Province.
Data from Sawit Watch show that oil palm plantation area in Papua Province has reach 958,094.2 ha with 79 plantation companies. The magnitude of the current extent has been an alarm for possibility of expansion grows in the year to come.
The expansion of further oil palm plantations according to Maryo will continue to grow in Papua province, considering the area of forest is still quite large. He warned the local government to be careful in giving permission.
Currently, the impact of oil palm plantations has been seen in Papua. Started from land conflicts; loss of indigenous people’s livelihoods; community criminalization by the company; and the environmental impact such as floods or forest and land fires. All have become visible evidence we can read in various media today.
Indigenous land grabbing has been experienced by Papuans since the era of Forest Concessions Right (HPH) by companies in the 1980s to land clearing for oil palm plantations.
The secretary of Yeresiam Gua tribe in Nabire Papua, Robertino Hanebora said that timber and timber companies have long taken their land without negotiating with them.
“The sacred territory and sago hamlets belonging to the traditional community of Yeresiam were also taken by the company,” he said.
Yue Yance, one of the indigenous Yeresiam residents of Kampung Sima, in Nabire Regency said that Sima village is located on the edge of the beach, while oil palm plantation is only limited to the sago hamlet beside Sima.
“Before the oil palm plantation existed, it becomes paradise for birds, there were peacocks, white and black, birds of Taon Taon, many more,” he said as he pointed toward the oil palm plantation. But now everything is cleared and changed into oil palm plantations, birds fly away to look for forests and other places for shelter and foraging.
Sima in Nabire is only one ezample. Similar case also happens in Mimika Regency. Timika Bishop, Mgr. John Philip Saklil, Pr, has requested local governments to be firm against the operation of oil palm plantations. The bishop said palm oil company such as PT. Pusaka Agro Lestari (PAL), which has been operating in Mimika Regency, Papua since 2011, had threatens the lives of Kamoro people in Mimika Regency who live in lowland coastal areas.
“The impact of environmental damage has been quite large. This will be a serious threat to coastal residents,” the Bishop John told Jubi.
He also said the expansion of oil palm plantation area operated by PT. PAL is still continue, since they had pocketed permit of Right to Use (HGU) to open a land area of 38.000 hectare.
“It can deplete the forests and trees in Timika region. A big flood in the village of Miyoko and Aikawapuka was the proof; PT. PAL should take responsibility for the disaster,” the bishop said.(to be continued)
Eco-bricks, a solution to reduce plastic waste
Nabire, Jubi – It was a lovely Monday noon (April 14th, 2019) when a group of the youth was gathering in the front yard of Bentot Yatipai’s house. Chatting and laughing, these young people, who are members of Amoye Youth Community, were busy cleaning and cutting papers and plastic waste, then putting it into plastic bottles. They were making ‘eco-bricks’.
Amoye Youth Community was established in 2006 to support young people who are passionate about motorbike at that time. As time goes by, the group started to think about their contribution to their environment. So they began to go around cleaning and collecting plastic waste from some particular locations in town, encouraged local people to donate their plastic waste and initiate a recycling program.
This group’s initiative, said Amoye youth community leader Bentot Yatipai, is a response towards insufficient waste management by the local government. “We conduct social activities, environmental awareness and educational campaign. Waste management is our top priority. Total our members now are 200 coming from several motorcycle clubs,” he said.
According to Yatipai, despite the lack of waste management by the local government, people are also so aware of their surroundings. “Our neighbourhood is still messy. People still not aware about hygiene, healthy environment and its prevention. This is why we initiated the recycling program,” said Yatipai.
However, his group does not set a particular schedule of making eco-bricks due to their other activities. The community members could gather at any time, particularly on weekend or holiday.
“Almost every Sunday they come for gathering. They understood their task and already knew what to do. Collecting waste, wash it, cut it and put the cutting plastics into bottles,” he said.
In addition to being environmentally friendly, eco-bricks also have economic value, to produce chairs, tables or photo booths, for example. “We want to start this program by inviting residents to donate plastic waste and separate their garbage,” he said.
“We don’t know the exact number of plastic waste we received, but it is quite a lot, as many people in Nabire collect waste from other residents from other regencies,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lukas Mote said he is interested in joining the Amoye Community because he thinks it has a useful contribution to the environment, health and education. “I am interested in joining because it offers many programs and accommodates members for sharing,” said Mote.
As a capital town of Nabire Regency, Nabire is geographically strategic as it becomes an entrance of the central highland area which consisting of many regencies. However, the demographic explosion has led this regency to a problem of waste disposal management.
From 2016 to 2018, it predicted that the town produced 350-400 m3 of waste per day and this number estimated continuously increases. Some locations such as Pasar Karang, Kalibobo and Terminal Oyehe are full of waste and dirty because it uses as the temporary waste terminal (TPS). Furthermore, people do not separate garbage and plastic waste.
A resident Handayani tells she often throws her domestic waste in a temporary disposal site located in the traditional market at night. According to her, Nabire is still dirty. Therefore, she asks the local government of Nabire to stipulate the regional regulation to regulate sanitation.
“If there are regulation and fine, Nabire must be clean and comfortable,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nabire Environment Office does not have a database about daily waste produced. Officers only pick up the garbage from the temporary disposal waste to the waste terminal (TPA)
In regards to this, the secretary of Nabire Environment Office Yohanis Ramandai said the office does not have a tool to estimate how much garbage produced per day. His office is only responsible for managing the garbage, including collecting, transporting and disposing of at the waste terminal.
In 2018, around IDR 100 million has been budgeted for waste management, including the cost for fuel, vehicle maintenance and meals for cleaning service officers. “Meanwhile, for 2019, IDR 1 billion budget has been submitted to regional working plan but not been approved yet,” said Ramandey.
In regards to Amoye Youth Community, Ramadey appreciates their action in reducing plastic waste. “I truly appreciate them. We might invite them to collaborate in reducing waste,” he said. (*)
Reporter: Titus Ruban
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Tracing the flooding trail in Kali Kemiri, Sentani
A HOUND, totally wet, are walking around, scrapping over damp branches lying on the ground. Thirsty, it moves to a puddle for a sip of water. Doesn’t know what to do, it turns to sniff piles of stumps that just tumbled from trees. This little dog is surrounding by hundreds of logs, which some begin to decay, piles of stones that left over from a massive flood that stroked the most of Sentani City on Saturday night (16/3/19).
Running, it follows its master, Stenly Monim (31 years old). “Her name is Moli, quite old now. She has lived with us for ten years,” he told Jubi on Thursday (21/3/19) at Kali Kemiri, Hinekombe Village, Sentani Sub-district, Jayapura Regency, Papua Province.
Stenly survived from the flood. The place he used to live in the intersection of Kali Kemiri (a river’s name) now looks like a shadowy island of the size of a mini soccer field with some trees left. He met Moli on Wednesday (20/3/2019) midday when he was walking through the riverbank. “I was surprised and excited because I thought Moli is dead.”
When first met, said Stenly, Moli was exciting. She run and jumped to him, circled him around and licked his hand and woofed. She has some scratches on her back hit by the flood that similar to Stenly’s back.
After five minutes walking along the location that used to drain by the water from Kali Kemiri, he stops in front of the ruin of his house with Moli who’s still around him. He admits this is the first time he returns home after the flood hit this place.
Before visiting this place, he left his eleven years old daughter Risyelita Monim to his relative whose home is not far from his house. “This is my house. I am usually just watching from distant. I tell my daughter to not come here because she might still be traumatised. She is the only child I have who still alive now.”
Stenly couldn’t save her second daughter’s life. Martina Marice Monim (9 years) died and had just been buried on Wednesday (20/3/2019) at Kampung Sereh, while his youngest son Alberto Monim (1) is still missing.
“We just celebrated Alberto’s first birthday on last 7 March,” he said.
Meanwhile, his wife Lara Merlin (25) survived because she was visiting her relative at Ifar Gunung. Currently, Stenly and the rest of his family stay at his relative’s house.
A premonition being late interpreted
At that tragic night, Stenly was anxious because of the heavy rain lasted until the dark. He continuously went to the riverbank observing the stream. An hour later, the water massively flew till it eroded the edge of the ‘island’ where five houses stood.
Usually, Stenly said, no matter how heavy the rain was, it never creates such stream like that night.
“But, that night was strange. Our location is quite high, but the water filled it very fast. I never thought it could have happened. I took my children immediately to my parent’s house where my mother, siblings and other families live. Its location is higher than ours.
Stenly’s house is in the middle. When water and sandy mud flooded this area, he informed his two neighbours. Then, together they went to his parent’s house. He also asked the neighbour next to his parent’s house to join. “ Around twenty people were gathering at that night, plus my siblings and their children.”
Suddenly, we heard a crash, said Stenly, but we couldn’t go anywhere. The river has overflowed, and water covered the two sides of the banks. No bridge to cross over.
Then, we heard something heavy bumped on something. The water volume was very high, and we were all scattered,” said Stenly.
According to him, the flood just swept everything away once. But logs and stones continued rolling and scrolling pushed by the current. He slumped into the piles of logs which eventually became a shield for him.
He shouted calling the names of his children and relatives. Suddenly, he heard the voice of his older daughter Risyelita. He tried to get out of the logs and searched for his daughter.
“I found Lita was not far from me. She held a log. I immediately grabbed her and held her tight while holding on the branch.”
Pulling up his energy, he bumped against the stream while holding his daughter and trying to find his other children who separated from him. But he couldn’t get them.
After swimming dozens of meters to save his daughter’s life, three men who were running on the other side of the river saw him. They stopped and pulled him two fallen areca palms before going away.
“I told my daughter, ‘Hold my back tight. I’ll cross the river with this areca tree’. At first, she said she was afraid. But, I said, ‘I will save you. You must be brave’.”
When he tried to across her daughter while holding the areca tree, the current hit them. They fell over and drifted away. But they almost close to the bank. When he could stand on the ground, he runs along the riverbank screaming his daughter’s name.
“Up to hundreds of meters I run. From the other side, I saw Lita managed to reach the edge of the river,” he said.
When he’s telling this story, from a distance faintly heard Lita’s voice calling her father. The girl ran passing through the sandy mud and come closer to Stenly, who looks resigned. He calls his daughter. He said no word to order his daughter to leave this place. Instead, he greets her, now his only child whom he can embrace alive.
Grief after a disaster
Stenly’s second daughter, Martina, was found in a position embraced by her aunt on Sunday morning (3/17/2019), both of them dead.
“The rescue team came at around one o’clock in the evening. Their body found in the early morning. They were not far away from me that night when I was under a pile of wood. But I didn’t see them or hear their voice,” he said.
Meanwhile, His son, Alberto, reportedly washed away to Gajah Mada BTN. He obtained this information from his cousin who survived and is treated currently at Abepura Hospital, Jayapura City.
“My cousin, Rina Sokoy, held Alberto and they drifted to BTN Gajah Mada. It’s about two kilometres away from here. But, Alberto was detached when a log hit Rina. I hope someone can find him alive. I miss him, and I keep praying,” he said.
According to Stenly, his relatives and three neighbours also experience the same story. They lost several family members. Some are dead, while others are declared missing. But, there are those who survived and now treated in the hospital due to injuries and broken bones.
To get detail information about the number of residents living in Kali Kemiri, Jubi met the chief of neighbourhood (RW 7) Andreas Hikoyabi (44 years old). He said around 700 people living on the banks of Kali Kemiri.
“About more than two dozen bodies have been found. Six of them have been picked up by the family at Bhayangkara Hospital. Yesterday, the rescue team carried sniffer dogs to search another body here,” he said while monitoring the work of the Joint Search and Rescue Team on the riverbanks of Kali Kemiri on Thursday (03/21/2019).
Residents suspect that there are bodies that still buried under the mud because of flies flying on the scene. Then, Andreas points out to the ruins of the house covered by thick mud which the rescue team tried to exavagate.
“In that house, there are seven family members. The couple and their three children have not found yet, while two children safely found.”
A member of Jayapura SAR Team, Sangap S (35) said the team keep searching for victims in Kali Kemiri because it’s a location that most influenced by the flood. However, until late afternoon, the rescue team still find no casualties.
“First, we found a dead dog up there, but we didn’t bury it. After that, we went down, and smell a stinky odour. We thought there are bodies. We started to dig but found nothing. So, we buried the dog, and the smell disappeared. It turns out that the smell was coming from the dog body that blew by the wind,” he said. (*)
Reporter: Kristianto Galuwo
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Accelerating rescue operations in flood-hit Sentani
Papua, Jubi – Indonesia has been hit by at least two major floods during this current transitional period from the rainy to the dry season, as high precipitation still occurs in several regions.
Floods have been reported in the provinces of West Java, East Java, Lampung, East Nusa Tenggara, South Sumatra, and Papua, among others. But East Java and Papua have been the worst hit by major flooding over the last several weeks.
In East Java, on March 5, 2019, floods triggered by heavy rains and the overflowing of several rivers, had inundated 15 districts and displaced nearly 12.5 thousand people, mostly in Madiun. Despite the widespread inundation, there were no reports of casualties.
In Papua, however, deadly flooding devastated Sentani and several other sub-districts in Jayapura District, and killed at least 112 people and rendered 94 others missing on March 16, 2019.
The natural disasters caused serious injuries to 107 people and minor injuries to 808 others.
A total of 374 homes, four bridges, five places of worship, eight school buildings, 104 home-cum-shops, and a traditional market were damaged. Furthermore, the natural disasters led to the displacement of 11,556 people.
The Papua provincial government has declared an emergency response period from March 16 to 29, 2019.
The Government has deployed a joint team comprising military and police personnel, among others, to continue search and rescue operations for the victims of the floods in Jayapura. Tens of NGOs have also volunteered in helping the rescue operations.
“Since yesterday evening, our volunteers have helped carry out evacuation, assessment and mud clearance in Sentani,” ACT coordinator Kusmayadi said in a statement, one day after the disaster occurred.
They also distributed some 1,000 packets of cooked food for the flood victims, and set up an ACT humanitarian command post and a public kitchen in Sentani.
As 94 people were still missing one week after the flooding, the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) held a coordination meeting to discuss efforts to expedite the handling of the impact of the flooding in the country’s eastern most province.
“This meeting aims to discuss and identify various issues concerning efforts to speed up handling and support for the rescue operations by the PMI during the emergency response period,” Sunarbowo Sandi, head of the PMI Headquarters, noted on March 23, 2019.
Arifin M. Hadi, head of the Disaster Mitigation Division of the PMI, remarked that the Red Cross had optimized services and endeavors during the rescue operations following the emergency response status.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the central and local PMI officers and the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Meanwhile, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the Natural Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), noted in a statement in Jakarta on March 22 that the flooding was triggered by deforestation in the Cycloops area.
“Incessant heavy rains in the Cycloops mountainous area, whose condition had degraded, caused flash floods in Jayapura District and the surrounding areas,” he noted.
The local government in Papua has planned to relocate residents living in the Cycloop nature reserve area in a bid to avoid future flash floods.
Papua’s Governor Lukas Enembe had earlier stated that the residents affected by the natural disasters would be moved to Wamena, Jayapura.
“This plan had been approved by President Joko Widodo. We just have to determine the proper location,” he noted in Jayapura on Thursday.
According to the governor, Papua’s government will discuss building public service facilities, such as hospitals, schools, and housing for the resettled residents.
“This type of disaster has been repeatedly occurring over a period of time, so the residents must be relocated,” he added.
The Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry in Jakarta, on March 19, however, denied that the disaster was caused by deforestation.
There was no illegal logging activity in the Sentani areas, according to IB Putera Parthama, the ministry’s Director General for River Basin Management.
There were no logs floating or swept away by flood waters in the area, he added.
“Branches and roots of the floating trees were intact. It shows that the trees were not a result of the illegal logging activity (suspected of having) caused the flash floods,” he told the press.
Sentani located in the Cycloop mountainous area is prone to flash floods and landslides during heavy rain because the area has a steep slope and an unstable river basin, he said, adding that the flooding was triggered by heavy rains that went on incessantly for six hours.
The forest conversion in Sentani was also not significant, as it covered a total area of 495.47 hectares or 3.3 percent during the 2012-2017 period.
“From 2012 to 2017, the forest area converted into non-forest area reached only 3.3 percent. So, it’s not strong enough to associate the disaster with the forest conversion,” he said.
According to the 2018 data, the forest coverage in the river basin area in Sentani was around 55 percent, meaning it was good enough.
The ministry, however, has sent a task force to investigate the cause of the flash floods, he remarked.
The task force is headed by M Saparis Sudaryanto, the ministry’s Director on Planning and Evaluation of River Basin Management
It will collect data and facts about the floods and landslides in Papua to study them for future solutions.
“I will collect facts as accurately as possible,” Sudaryanto said.
The ministry has also set up an information command post to update information on the flooding situation in Sentani.
Indonesia is prone to geological and hydrometeorological disasters. Last year, during the period from January to mid-December, of the 2,427 natural disasters had hit the tropical country, 2,350, or 96.9 percent, were hydrometeorological in nature, such as floods, landslides, and whirlwinds. (*)
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