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Mercy Corps and Rockefeller Foundation combat the effects of climate change in Indonesian slums

Indonesia, December 2, 2009

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As world leaders meet in Copenhagen, Mercy Corps helps those hardest hit by the current effects of climate change

Jakarta, Indonesia – As world leaders gather in Copenhagen to wrestle with climate change policies, a new partnership in Indonesia is already helping some of the poorest people – urban slum dwellers – to withstand, prepare for and recover from the impacts of global warming. Mercy Corps, with a $525,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and the support of the Urban and Regional Development Institute (URDI), is implementing the twelve-month Indonesian Cities Project, part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN).

Mercy Corps is working in two cities – Semarang and Bandar Lampung – that struggle with climate change-related impacts such as flooding, lack of clean water, and the spread of diseases like Dengue fever. The agency is working with government entities, including the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment, university and research institutions, local non-governmental organizations and others to assess the vulnerability of these cities to climate change, and test innovative adaptation and risk reduction strategies.

While attendees of the Copenhagen conference will be discussing climate change mitigation and reduction efforts, Mercy Corps' work with the Rockefeller Foundation strives to help people adapt to the changes that are already affecting their daily lives.

“Even if carbon emissions cease immediately, most climate experts agree that accumulated carbon in the atmosphere will warm the world to dangerous levels. This hits impoverished people the hardest,” says Mercy Corps Indonesia Country Director Sean Granville-Ross. “With the funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and our expertise in disaster preparation and response, Mercy Corps will help Indonesians living in slums anticipate and tackle the effects of climate change they are already experiencing.”

According to the United Nations, the global urban population is predicted to skyrocket from 3.2 billion to 4.9 billion in the next 30 years, placing great strain on under-resourced cities and exacerbating the negative impacts of global warming.

“Communities around the world need better tools, techniques, and strategies to address the risks of climate change,” said Ashvin Dayal, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation in Asia. “We may not be able to reverse all of the impacts that global warming has already had, but we hope this partnership with Mercy Corps and URDI will play a catalytic role in building the capacity of the institutions and communities in Indonesian cities in order to cope with and successfully adapt to these impacts.”

Mercy Corps is consulting with its city partners about climate hazards such as flooding, drought and coastal abrasions, as well as existing plans to help slum dwellers cope. The agency is also conducting focus groups and discussions with poor communities to hear directly how climate change impacts them. Mercy Corps expects that this process will give rise to new, robust models to help people prepare for, withstand and recover from the predicted impacts of climate change. The partners plan to replicate these models in additional cities in Indonesia and beyond through the ACCCRN network by 2012.