Focus Group Discussion (FGD) on Communities’ Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climatic Changes and Hazards

Focus Group Discussion (FGD) on Communities’ Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climatic Changes and Hazards

Indonesia - 11 March, 2020

Forest and agricultural lands are affected by changes and hazards due to natural factors as well as anthropogenic ones. Climatic factors are common causes for such changes and disasters, oftentimes combined with other factors such as market drivers or policy factors, creating more intense impacts.

Ketapang District in West Kalimantan is one of many districts in Indonesia experiencing changes and hazards, including forest and peatland fires during the long droughts in 2015 and 2019, and occurrences of floods in parts of the district in the rainy season of 2020.

Rural communities in Ketapang depend largely on forest and agricultural lands for their livelihoods, and are, consequently, vulnerable to changes and hazards. In light of that, Tropenbos Indonesia currently conducts Vulnerability Assessments (VA) in a number of village-landscapes in Ketapang District, with the primary focus on communities’ vulnerability and adaptation to climate-related factors. The assessment aims to gain understanding on the elements of vulnerability, i.e. exposure to climate-related changes/hazards, sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and communities’ strategies for adaptation and for coping with the impacts. Four village-landscapes are chosen for the study, i.e. one landscape in the northern-upstream part of the district, and three landscapes in the downstream parts of the district. The four village-landscapes represent variation in ecosystems, i.e. upstream higher-elevation landscape, forest margin villages, and coastal-peatland ecosystem areas. Each village-landscape encompasses three to four neighbouring villages that share the same landscape and similar types of land-based livelihoods. The assessment starts with participatory approach applied through FGD (Focused Group Discussion) which serves as data collection as well as for developing communities’ awareness on climate vulnerability and adaptation. Two major topics are discussed: 1) forest and ecosystem services and 2) agricultural practices, and gender-segregated groups are formed for each topic.

It is expected that through these FGDs, communities could self-evaluate the changes and hazards in their landscapes and identify the ones related to climatic factors. The communities are also expected to be able to reflect what have been their common measures in addressing and adapting to the situations. At the end of the discussions, they collectively discuss vulnerability and they could indicate levels of vulnerability based on their perceptions. This assessment is an initial stage of Tropenbos Indonesia’s new programs and activities in Ketapang for the coming years. Therefore, the outputs are important for designing intervention strategies that are in line with addressing vulnerability and strengthening the adaptation and/or adaptive capacities of rural communities to climate related issues.

The FGDs were implemented in the period of 27 February-3 March 2020 in four village-landscapes in Ketapang District, namely Simpang Dua landscape (in Kecamatan Simpang Dua), Sungai Putri and Gunung Palung landscapes (in Kecamatan Matan Hilir Utara) and Pematang Gadung landscapes (in Kecamatan Matan Hilir Selatan). Participants in the four landscapes were all enthusiastic in participating and in discussing the issues and their experiences. After the FGDs, participants were also given opportunities to ask questions, express their thoughts or share any relevant perspectives. One particular participant from Sungai Putri village-landscape expressed his appreciation to Tropenbos Indonesia’s initiatives in discussing issues that were relevant on the ground and the measures conducted by the villagers. In addition, he hoped that Tropenbos Indonesia’s programs would benefit the communities who live in areas that are quite vulnerable to natural hazards, and, at the same time, need assistance for their agricultural practices and land management. (AW)