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Supporting better watershed management in Indonesia
Situated in the "Ring of Fire", Indonesia is one of the most geologically active regions in the world. More than 2,000 serious disasters are reported each year, 90 percent of which are weather-related – mostly the result of torrential rainfall and floods, tornadoes, fires and mudslides. Due to poor watershed management, many areas are prone to soil erosion and sedimentation, causing upstream flooding and negatively influencing farming, especially when the monsoon season comes.
 
Hillside in the Naruan Micro Catchment. Photo: Hu Chuyu
 
Sedimentation is a major concern in the management of the Multipurpose Reservoir of Gajah Mungkur of Wonogiri District in Indonesia. “The issue has become a national one, because the reservoir has a strategic function for flood control in the Upper Solo Watershed, as a supplier of agricultural water in many districts downstream and as a source of electricity through hydropower,” said Dr Agung Budi Supangat, coordinator of the APFNet-funded project “Development of Participatory Management of the Micro Catchment at The Bengawan Solo Upper  Watershed”, which is located in Naruan microcatchment, the Upper Bengawan Solo River Basin on the island of Java.
 
The microcatchment is dominated by very steep slopes with annual precipitation of 2,979 mm, leading to high danger of erosion. The high rate of sedimentation in the watershed is mainly a result of the lack of forest cover and soil erosion. In order to determine the suitability of the current land use in the area a Land Use Capability (LUC) assessment was developed. According to this assessment, approximately 56 percent of the area is not used in accordance with the capacity of the land, i.e. areas not suitable for seasonal crops are used for agriculture. Based on the land cover analyses using the 2011 Landsat 7 ETM, forest cover in the area was only 2.25 percent of the total area. A growing population puts more stress and strain on the watershed through excessive land use, exacerbating land degradation. These factors all combine to make the watershed vulnerable to landslides, water pollution and poor livelihoods. 
 
Against this background, APFNet, in collaboration with the Watershed Management Technology Center (WMTC) in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, launched a project in 2017 to support participatory management of the Naruan microcatchment based on community participation and a wide involvement of different stakeholders, while adhering to the principles of soil and water conservation, thus improving ecosystem services at large. 
The terminal evaluation group. Photo: APFNet
 
From 18 to 22 November 2019, APFNet conducted a terminal evaluation by visiting the field sites and holding workshops with the project executing agency (the WMTC). Initial findings showed that the project has achieved remarkable results and should further monitor long-term impacts to demonstrate best practices. “We hope the demonstration project can inspire and motivate local farmers to change their perception on land use and strengthen their awareness of watershed management through better knowledge of soil and water conservation,” a monitoring and evaluation officer from the APFNet Secretariat said.
 

Improving watershed management through local soil conservation measures and vegetation conservation approaches

As a result of long-term deforestation and poor land management by the community, the formation of gully erosion is often found on the boundary of farmlands, channelling water across unprotected land and eroding the soil along drainage lines. This ultimately leads to a reduction in agricultural land productivity and environmental damage. 
To prevent such damage, gully erosion control measures, such as weirs or gully plugs were implemented. These measures not only aimed to prevent gully enlargement and control sedimentation rate but also to demonstrate to the community ways to cope with gully erosion. “Bamboo gully techniques can be disseminated to other locations because the technique is easy to copy, and the material is easy to obtain at a low cost”, said Dr Nining Wahyuningrum, Soil and Water Conservation expert at the WMTC.
Bamboo gully control at the project site. Photo: Huang Kebiao/APFNet

On 30 hectares of the demonstration sites, different agroforestry models have been established, with trees such as albizia and limpaga, fruit crops such as avocado, durian and parkia, and some seasonal crops. “I am happy to use agroforestry on my land, as my family has more land and uses less labour. Agroforestry allows me to reduce the labour input and gain more income from the added value of wood and fruit crops in the coming future. The project provided me with seedlings and technical support and, more importantly, through the project, I also realized that this model is more beneficial to the environment of our homeland,” said Mr Sadigo, a farmer in Bubakan village, one of the three demonstration villages in the project. 
 
 
Agroforestry model site in Bubakan (left) and interview with farmers in the village of Bubakan (right). Photo: Huang Kebiao/APFNet
 

Enhancing community management of the micro-catchment 

Aiming to increase stakeholders’ commitment to participate in better management of the microcatchment, the project gathered representatives of farmers, community leaders, officials from provincial and central governments, and NGOs to discuss and formulate a participatory management plan for the Naruan microcatchment based on community participation and stakeholder collaboration.
Dr Dewi Retna Indrawati, a key project team member at WMTC with expertise in community development, told the evaluation team that “we have invested a lot of effort in field group discussions to find out about field partners’ expectations of the project, build common understanding of the importance of integrated watershed management, and confirm the role of parties in the coordination.” Through the implementation of the project, local communities have gradually realized the importance of soil and water conservation and how to better contribute to better catchment management and soil and water conservation.
Field group discussions with tenants, community leaders and project managers at the WMTC. Photo: WMTC

The project “Development Participatory Management of Micro Catchment at The Bengawan Solo Upper Watershed” was initiated in 2017 with a two-year duration. The total project grant is USD 242,783 of which USD 97,928 is provided by APFNet.