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Notes from the Anambas: Conservation and communities during Covid-19

Mangrove Conservation in the Anamabas, Indonesia

Much like everyone else, we at the Anambas Foundation  entered the year 2020 feeling hopeful and
excited for a new decade. We had plans to introduce new activities and to expand our existing programs
to other regions in the Anambas Islands -- things were steady and on track.

Everything changed in early March when Indonesia reported its first confirmed cases of COVID-19 and
the government put in place a large-scale social restrictions policy throughout the country.  During this
period our staff had to work from home, those of us who resided out of town weren’t able to travel to
the Anambas, schools were closed and almost all of our current and upcoming programs and activities
had to be restructured as we tried to navigate this new normal.

 

Growing Hope

Amidst these setbacks, we have managed to kick off a new initiative for mangrove conservation in Kiabu village.

Mangrove nursery

Indonesia has the largest area of mangrove forest in the world and this greenery is important for the sustainability of tropical marine ecosystems. In 2018 we worked together with a team of horticulture experts to assess the mangrove population on Bawah island and surrounding areas and the results were encouraging. Mangroves on the islands around Bawah Reserve, all previously uninhabited, were growing abundantly and as a result had protected areas of the shoreline and reduced erosion. This provided good information as we learned that mangrove forests offer plenty of benefits for the environment and humans.

For our new initiative in Kiabu Village, we planted mangroves along the coastline with the purpose of
creating a green belt area that will withstand sea waves to prevent abrasion and erosion. Thus far, Kiabu relies on wave breakers, walls built up to stop waves from flooding the village, but they are not enough to protect the entire village, especially during times when the weather is uncertain.

With the full support from the local government, the mangrove conservation project began in June with
the construction of a nursery.

The latest update from our field team is that dozens of young mangrove trees from the nursery have been planted on the seafront area of Kiabu. What’s more encouraging is that we at the Foundation are not alone in carrying out this activity, residents including members of our women’s group as well as local organisations are all involved and participating throughout the entire process.

 

Clean Slate

Also, in Kiabu, our Integrated Waste Management (IWM) is running quite well amidst the pandemic, we
continue to regularly collect, separate and recycle waste there.

Clean-up

IWM educates residents on waste issues and rubbish separation, so far, we’ve seen increased participation in community clean-ups and waste-collecting activities. All of our programs and activities that we implement in the Anambas emphasise community engagement and participation, so we are thrilled whenever we hear the local communities are as passionate as we are in protecting and conserving the environment.

 

Shared Knowledge

As a way to increase community engagement between villages in the Anambas, this year we initiated a
new activity called the Knowledge-Exchange program between the islands of Telaga and Kiabu. We
began by sending representatives from Telaga to Kiabu to teach the local community there how to grow
organic vegetables at home by transforming used plastics into vegetable pots. In exchange, members of
the Kiabu women’s group traveled to Telaga to give training on up-cycling art like how to make reusable
bags from single-use plastic bags.-

Nora
Months after this activity was held, we received good news from one of the participants named Nora, a
member of Kiabu women’s group. When we spoke with her, she told us that after the organic farming
training, she began planting vegetables and fruits at her home using the techniques taught by the Telaga farmers. Her efforts have borne fruit, literally, and her homegrown produce is more than enough to feed her family so she sells the excess to neighbours, earning her an extra income.

 

Class in Session

1 BAF Digital English Club  Foundation

Over in Tiangau Village, our Digital English Club (DEC) that teaches English to schoolchildren resumed in June after a hiatus due to the pandemic and school closures. By following strict health protocols
released by the government and asking for parental consent, class is back in session for students ranging from third to sixth graders. We are grateful for a local community group who volunteers to teach English every week and local officials who have donated masks for students. We continue to be inspired by the enthusiasm and commitment of our students learning English.

 

This pandemic has affected our daily lives in ways that we could never have imagined, and despite
technological challenges in the Anambas due to its remoteness, we are optimistic that we will be able to
continue our programs by strengthening resilience amongst the local community and finding creative and innovative ways to deliver our activities.

If you’d like to know more about the Anambas Foundation programs and ways to engage and support our work go to https://www.bawahanambas.org/support-our-programmes/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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