Insights from the focus group discussion with Dompas’ local government

CIFOR scientists Heru Komarudin, Pandam Nugroho Prasetyo, and Beni Okarda held a second focus group discussion (FGD) at the local government office in Dompas on 6 September 2018. In this FGD, CIFOR aimed to introduce the Participatory Action Research Community-Based Fire Prevention and Peatland Restoration project to village officials and the local community. The aim was to identify key issues on the use of fire, as well as to explore ideas and thoughts on fire prevention and peatland restoration efforts. The FGD was attended by a total of 15 key Dompas representatives, i.e. the village head, secretary to the head of the village, the village officer and community leaders, including the participation of women officers.

This FGD revealed that different programs related to fire prevention, peatland restoration, and livelihoods have been carried out by different actors. There had also been guidance or assistance and socialization regarding fire prevention. In general, all programs had been useful, although some issues hampered implementation, including the lack of road access and water management, a lack of coordination among actors, inappropriate use of safety gears for fire suppression, and a lack of support (both in general and in terms of financial support). In response to this lack of financial support, the village secretary stated that there had been a policy change which had affected budget availability; however, the local government had tried to accommodate Fire Care Community (MPA) activities into possible, relevant activities — as part of a short-term solution to resolve the limited funding availability.

The discussion also resulted in a recommendation from the village leader of Dompas, who strongly proposed hybrid coconut as an alternative commodity to improve the local community’s livelihood. His suggestion was that the local community could plant hybrid coconuts in their gardens, both for sustenance and to generate income. Participants also suggested increasing awareness among farmers of avoiding the use of fire in their farming practices, through stricter law enforcement.