People who are suddenly thrown back on wetlands for their survival really appreciate the resources at their disposal
Wetlands International helped the Orang Asli people in Malaysia sell their wetlands products to partners and private companies while they were cut off from tourists.
Elsewhere, our team in Indonesia, under director Nyoman Suryadiputra, has been drawing up plans to help communities combat an epidemic of Dengue fever that can lead to hospitalization in facilities that are already under pressure from the influx of Covid-19 patients. The innovative idea is to construct small artificial wetlands containing water-purifying aquatic plants and fish that predate mosquito larvae at mosques and other public places. The mini-wetlands will keep clean the shared ablution waters and help prevent the proliferation of the mosquitoes that transmit the fever. Indigenous communities in the world’s largest inland wetland, the Pantanal in the heart of South America, were hit in 2020 by a crisis within a crisis. As Covid-19 began its killing spree, the worst drought there in half a century unleashed unprecedented wildfires across the desiccated wetland. Our Brazilian team, under Rafaela Nicola’s direction, partnered with SOS Pantanal and an aid initiative Uniao BR to provide food and clean water to more than 400 indigenous and traditional communities’ families across the Pantanal. Under the Corredor Azul Programme, Wetlands International worked in support of local community livelihoods, equipping the Kadiweu indigenous
recovery. In the long run, the health of the wetlands will be the best defence for the health of their communities. Needs and threats have been diverse for wetland communities. The Orang Asli people in Malaysia, who depend on the Gombak River and natural resources in the local peatlands, have been cut off not just from vital supplies but also from eco-tourists. Their main source of income in recent times has been selling wetland products such as woven bags, carpets and wild vegetables to visiting tourists. So in 2020, as a continuation of its work building their capacity to conserve and restore the river and streams of their homeland, Wetlands International has helped them establish partnerships with private companies to sell their handicraft and to sponsor ecological restoration. In Indonesia, Wetlands International switched its training courses to Zoom and WhatsApp. It allowed communities in Demak, on the shores of northern Java, to continue restoring the mangroves that protect their villages from storms and developing eco-friendly aquaculture. Keeping up the pace on these projects, known as Building with Nature, was especially vital when outsiders were banned from entering the villages, fish markets had collapsed and residents working in nearby factories were being laid off.
Residents of Demak continued work to restore mangroves while outsiders were banned from entering the villages.
Wetlands International Annual Review 2020
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