FAO gives cows, goats to Merapi farmers
Bambang Muryanto, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta | Archipelago | Wed, May 01 2013, 10:28 AM
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has given more than 240 cows, goats and sheep to those in Sleman, Yogyakarta, and Magelang, Central Java, affected by the eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010.
“The livestock [donation] is aimed at supporting and securing the livelihood of the people who live in the area,” Indonesia FAO representative Mustafa Imir said after visiting community livestock pens in Cangkringan district in Sleman on Monday.
The FAO provided cattle to those living in Hunian Tetap in Kuwang, Sleman, since their houses in Bakalan hamlet were destroyed by the eruption.
Meanwhile, 190 goats and sheep were provided to residents of Blongkeng village in Magelang displaced after their homes were swept away by cold lava flows following the eruption of the volcano.
Mustafa symbolically handed over the assistance to Sleman Regent Sri Purnomo and Magelang Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) head Eko Triyono on Monday. “We hope that in the future, people can increase their incomes and livelihood.”
Mustafa and Purnomo then inaugurated two 84-cow community pens in Hunian Tetap designed for residents to develop biogas from animal waste.
Purnomo said that the eruption killed 2,233 dairy cows, 235 beef cattle and tens of thousands of chickens and quails and destroyed livestock pens, depriving people of their livelihoods.
“The total amount of losses from the livestock sector amounted to Rp 48 billion,” Purnomo said. The amount is equivalent to US$4.93 million.
One member of the community receiving the aid, Eko Bejo Subekti, said that he would take good care of the livestock, promising to share with those yet to receive assistance.
“We promise to raise the livestock well so as to quickly restore the local economy,” Eko said.
Sebastian Saragih, the FAO livelihood coordinator for the Merapi program, said that the plans to develop communal pens and give livestock were initiated by the government alongside agencies under the UN, such as the United Nations Development Program, the FAO and the International Organization for Migration.
“The program has been sponsored by the Indonesia Multi-Donor Funds Facility for Disaster Recovery, which was later changed to the Indonesia Disaster Fund [IDF], supporting funds for which were derived from New Zealand AID,” Sebastian said.
Wangsit, a representative from the Institute for Promoting a Sustainable Livelihood Approach (Improsula), FAO’s partner in the project, said the supply of hay for the livestock was grown in the abandoned villages.
The residents made use of their former homes to grow grass, Wangsit said.
“The project can also be a model for residents living on the slopes of Mount Merapi who wish to move to safer locations. Their former living places could be turned into farms to grow grass,” Wangsit added.