Monitoring water and food security in eastern Indonesia

May 24th, 2016 by Yaw Anokwa

Ken Evans is the project leader of Mine Technology Group at Charles Darwin University. In this guest post, Ken describes his work deploying ODK in Nusa Tenggara Timur.

In the eastern Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) problems of water and food security are chronic and threaten lives and livelihoods. The Province has a monsoonal wet-dry tropical climate, and water resources are limited, with high inter-annual variability. Most of the people of NTT live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Slope failure
Slope mass failure resulting in blockage of the primary irrigation channel. This results in areas downstream having no water for irrigation and growing food. ODK is a useful tool for local farmers to record this information and inform maintenance managers of the need for repair.

As part of an Indonesian and International Research Partnership, Nusa Cendana University (UNDANA) and Charles Darwin University (CDU) trialed ODK as a tool to collect information on maintenance needs in poor and remote irrigated farming areas. Irrigation infrastructure in the areas is in need of regular maintenance to ensure equitable distribution of water thereby eradicating the "hungry season."

CDU and UNDANA staff
CDU researchers Professor Ken Evans and Dr. Monishka Narayan (rear) working with (front left to right) Ibu Jenny Markus, Pak Utma Aspartria and Pak Norman Riwu Kaho from UNDANA to implement ODK for their research.

We found ODK very useful and straightforward to apply and ideal for the planned application in these underserved communities. We hope to continue working in NTT with communities and government using ODK to empower local communities to collect information for the government as a basis for establishing maintenance priorities.