Sumiran and M. Nasir, one of the residents of Pebuahan, took action to build a temporary wave barrier
About three months ago, heavy rain struck almost the entire province of Bali. According to the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), heavy rain was expected to continue until July 7, 2023. It was even mentioned that there was a potential tidal flood threat on 24 beaches to be watched out for from July 5 to July 8, 2023. Cities like Denpasar and tourist villages like Gumbrih in Jembrana Regency were hit by floods that disrupted various activities. Heavy rain in Klungkung caused bridges to collapse and roads to be cut off. Landslides occurred in several places, such as Banjar Pesangkan in Karangasem Regency. Even some rice fields in Baler Bale Agung Village, Jembrana Regency, were submerged.
Strangely, this happened in July, which is supposed to be the dry season. Extreme weather, one of the main signs of the climate crisis, is evidence that climate change leading to a climate crisis is real, happening in Bali, right before our eyes.
Erosion and the impacts of the climate crisis in the form of high waves pose a real threat to the residents of Banjar Pebuahan, Banyubiru Village, Jembrana, Bali. Over the past 10 years, erosion has consumed nearly 7 soccer fields worth of land. At the same time, without a wave barrier, seawater can easily invade and damage their homes at any time.
Residents are not without effort to address this. Every effort to seek help from all parties has been made, even though the attention they receive is minimal. Self-help has also been attempted, but it ultimately proved ineffective due to their limitations.
“From 2010 to 2017, the development was rapid. The road that used to be there is now gone. In the past, the southern part (of the residents) had more households than the northern part. In the south, there were 350 households, and in the north, 250 households. That was in the territory of three neighborhood units (RT),” said Sumiran, the head of Neighborhood Unit 08.
Sumiran is one of the residents living in the Pebuahan Beach area. We frequently communicate with him, especially to understand and learn about the conditions of the residents in Banjar Pebuahan. Since November of last year, we have been actively organizing various activities in Banjar Pebuahan when it was reported that erosion had hit their homes, resulting in at least 70 houses being affected.
The view of Pebuahan Beach from the last remaining road due to erosion year after year
A similar story repeated when we visited Banjar Pebuahan in early July. The river flowed between residents’ houses, evaporated, and flooded some houses. Not only that, the local fishermen’s boats parked along the coast also sank. Two boats were lost, and 56 others, along with their equipment, suffered severe damage.
Erosion had touched our hearts and left us deeply moved. Some residents had to move their homes again for the umpteenth time after the seawater invaded their houses. The fishermen’s boats were affected again, damaged, and in need of repair. In addition to their homes, their livelihoods had to temporarily cease. Therefore, what Sumiran and the surrounding residents needed was not just food supplies.
“At that time, after the disaster, there was assistance from various parties, such as from the village, from the regency, and other organizations. The assistance was in the form of food supplies for household needs. As for construction, there was none.”
Renovating individual houses was not the urgent need. Sumiran emphasized that he was eagerly waiting for assistance to build a wave barrier so that erosion would no longer reach the residents’ settlements, and the sea would not enter their homes without permission. Moving multiple times, besides requiring a significant amount of money, also posed a redundant and uncomfortable threat.
Sumiran pointed to a boat that used to be the location of his first home
Sumiran has never received any answers from the government even as the Pebuahan coastline has shifted two kilometers. He was frustrated when he found out that other areas affected by erosion in Jembrana had been addressed by the government, such as Gilimanuk, Candikusuma Beach, Baluk Rening Beach, and Pengambengan Beach.
“What’s going on? Other places have been addressed, why not Pebuahan?”
Sumiran said that the worst erosion began five years ago, in 2018. That was the first time he had to relocate his residence. He pointed to a damaged boat that was still stranded in the sea. The location he pointed to was near his first residence, to the west-south of the current coastline.
“I’ve mentioned it before. The economy was running, there was still income, but life wasn’t peaceful. Sleep was also not peaceful, so it’s the same,” Sumiran resignedly said.
Erosion in Pebuahan Beach will continue from year to year if preventive measures through the construction of a wave barrier are not implemented soon. Moreover, during full moon or new moon phases, Sumiran and others become increasingly worried. The sea’s water level reaches its maximum. Imagine if this happens during a perigee phenomenon, sea waves will be even higher. Being disaster-ready is as important as having a wave barrier.
Three years after relocating, Sumiran lost his home again for the second time. Fortunately, the high waves that entered his house occurred during the daytime. Sumiran said that if it happened at night, there would undoubtedly have been many casualties.
“I’ve rebuilt my house several times. Now I’ve built it to the north, but it’s still under threat of erosion. Many residents in the south of this road have already moved. Some are living with others, some are taking out housing loans. In short, just to be able to move,” Sumiran said.
The current condition around Pebuahan Beach
After conducting emergency response and mental recovery support activities for disaster-affected survivors, we organized Psychosocial activities for the residents around the Pebuahan Beach area. The aim was to rekindle the spirits of those affected by erosion and high waves. With the right psychosocial support, it is hoped that residents can get the assistance they need to overcome trauma.
In its implementation, we also collaborated with the Kelian (Chief) of Banjar Pebuahan in Banyubiru Village and the Nyata (Real Work) Student Group from Udayana University. This activity was held on August 20, 2023. It started at 09:00 AM and was attended by at least 200 residents from three Neighborhood Units. The activities were quite diverse, including cracker-eating contests, sack races, climbing palm trees, and eggplant ball games.
A disaster awareness board game was also provided for children as an educational medium. This activity was quite important. Children need to be assured and comforted by providing information about disasters in an enjoyable way.
One month later, we conducted mapping for the installation of evacuation routes, gathering points, and drainage routes to be demolished. The Pebuahan residents then added a gathering point in front of the Al-Khairat Islamic Boarding School (Pondok Pesantren). The location was not far from Sumiran’s house, less than 1 kilometer away.
Thirty people sat in a circle in the unused mosque area. On September 14, 2023, after conducting psychosocial activities, we continued with Focus Group Discussion about the Disaster Management Plan. The goal was to formulate the establishment of a Community Disaster Management Group (KMPB/ CDMG) and identify threats to develop effective disaster adaptation and mitigation strategies.
“Thank you for helping the residents of Banyubiru, especially in Pebuahan. I remember very well when CVA activities with Save the Children were carried out at the end of last year,” Sumiran explained.
Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with the residents of Pebuahan
Sumiran said that the issues in Pebuahan Beach might not have received much attention from the public and the government. Nevertheless, he never retreated from voicing the aspirations of the residents around him. This spirit has taught us that the struggle should not stop or regress, regardless of the conditions. It must always move forward, be pursued, and voiced.
“If you come again, just let me know in advance. So I can cook, prepare some fish. The fish here is fresh,” said Sulastri, Sumiran’s wife.
The burden of the climate crisis continues to be borne by small-scale fishermen day by day. Not without effort, Sumiran and the residents of Pebuahan continue to collaborate to find a way out. But in the hands of extreme weather and erosion, the struggle continues until the sea no longer visits homes without permission.
Article: Nicolaus Sulistyo
Photo: Hamzah, Edward Angimoy, and Nicolaus Sulistyo © IDEP Foundation