Research project Climate change has become a problem that now affects most parts of the world. It can have severe implications for health, such as spreading the range of infectious disease, or it can seriously impact on social structures, by, for instance, reinforcing gender unequal divisions of labour. Field data shows that swidden agriculturalists in eastern Indonesia are experiencing dramatic changes in climate, and that this had had noticeable repercussions on their socio-economic situation. Despite the felt effects of climate change, not all adaptation measures are successfully received in the field.
This project investigates local impacts of and adaptations to climate change on the island of Flores, eastern Indonesia, with specific focus on health and gender issues. The project takes a socio-historical perspective and builds on social anthropological fieldwork carried out in 2009-2011. A short period of fieldwork in March-April 2014 will add to the ethnographic data and promote a better understanding of a) the nature of the present socio-economic situation in the study area, and b) local gender relations and notions and understandings of climate change. The aim is for the collected body of data to guide the design and launching of a locally adapted culture sensitive information campaign in collaboration with local key actors, and ultimately inform the design and implementation of local adaptive strategies and policies. Targeting women in particular in the information campaign might be a strategic advantage, since women in this area have proved to occupy a fairly flexible position that has, and still is, allowing for socio-economic and cultural change. The results from the field will allow for an evaluation of the applicability of this method. A positive result will have concrete implications for the population in this area and, with a few modifications, this approach might be transferrable to other geographic, socio-economic and cultural areas as well. This is one constructive step towards creating a more fruitful communication between, on the one hand, researchers, NGOs, policy makers, medical teams, and so forth, and, on the other hand, the local communities with which they engage. The original value of the method is to acknowledge the views and beliefs held by local communities and finding ways in which to circumvent miscommunication, which has a bearing on all types of cross-cultural interaction.