Climate change is expected to increase the unpredictability of seasons. Using Anthropological methods to understand its impact, we provide a case study of livelihood responses to the 2010 La Nina event among the indigenous Ngaju Dayak communities in Kapuas district, Central Kalimantan. They are surrounded by severely degraded peatlands resulting from a government mega-project in the 1990’s to convert 1 million hectares of peatlands for rice cultivation. The La Nina caused an unusually wet year with no dry season. Such occurrences are rare and has forced many individuals in the community to forego their main livelihood activities: rice cultivation (which relies on slash and burn after a long dry spell), and rubber tapping (because the liquid latex melts away with the rain). With little forest resources to fall back on, and a logging ban against those that can access what little is left, people resorted to illegal smallscale gold mining outside their villages. This has negatively impacted the river water quality throughout most of the Kapuas river. The 2010 anomaly prevented some wetland management activities to take place, such as clearing wetland vegetation to encourage fish migration and spawning in specific areas, affecting fishing activities in 2011. Degraded peatlands lost their ability to absorb hydrological fluctuations, further exacerbating the problem. Under these conditions, seasonal anomalies have significant livelihood impacts in communities that rely on seasonal changes to diversify their income sources. This case also provides insights on how a seasonal disturbance can affect activities in the following years. Informal often illegal sectors with low capital and skill requirements, and strong kinship or other types of social networks were crucial in providing alternative, short term income options.
Topic: livelihoods,peatlands,degraded land,communities
Publication Year: 2012
Source: Presented at The 13th Congress of the International Society for Ethnobiology in May 2012 in Montpellier, France. 7