Image of a man and young boy holding up a large fish and smiling.

Planning for the Unexpected .

An interactive, community-led process called I-CATCH is helping coastal communities in Indonesia better prepare for the impacts of climate change.


That’s how La Ode Agus Rianto, from the Wakatobi Office of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, once described his community in the face of rising tides and unpredictable weather.

In many of Indonesia’s coastal communities, bigger storms increasingly make it too risky for fisherman to go out and do their jobs, meaning months without income for families, and a serious blow to local economies. On top of that, rising sea levels claim more and more land every year, forcing families to abandon their homes. But a joint effort between USAID, Chemonics, and local governments is giving power back to these communities, by helping citizens assess vulnerability and adapt to the changing climate.

Through the Indonesia Marine and Climate Support (IMACS) program, communities are taking a look at their potential risks and taking action to improve their lives and increase their resilience. A community-led process—called Indonesia Climate Adaptation Tool for Coastal Habitats, or I-CATCH—is helping them take charge.

“Wives can now help their husbands by working. The husband isn’t on a higher level. We’re the same.”

Rosmawati, of the Barracuda Women’s Group

“If our village can increase its welfare using this, why shouldn’t other villages?”

La Musu Ali Ode, head of Liya Bahari village

The process starts with a three-day vulnerability assessment, where community members map their village, create a calendar of monthly activities, and discuss the biggest threats they see from climate change. Next, they work on an action plan to address those threats. Then, with support from their local government and IMACS, they work to implement the plan over time.

For example, the village of Liya Bahari decided their biggest problem was storms that prevent fisherman from working. So they developed seaweed farms as an alternative way for families to earn money. The government brought in seaweed industry experts, who worked with community members to implement the latest farming techniques and ensure success.

“The District Office of Marine Affairs and Fisheries supported the community in getting the right seaweed seeds,” La Ode Agus Rianto said.

In South Konawe, Rumba-rumba village built a 300-meter wall and planted new mangroves to protect their homes from rising seas, and expanded fish traps so fisherman don’t need to take their boats out under dangerous conditions. They also developed alternative industries to fishing that have allowed women to play a bigger role in the local economy. The women of the village now run a restaurant, a palm sugar business, and a fish-drying facility to preserve food for months when catches are more scarce.


communities assessed so far by local governments for vulnerability.

“Wives can now help their husbands by working,” said Rosmawati, who runs the Barracuda Women’s Group. “The husband isn’t on a higher level. We’re the same.”

In partnership with IMACS, local governments have assessed the vulnerability of 100 communities so far, and are developing action plans to help them not only survive the changes, but thrive no matter what the weather brings.

“If our village can increase its welfare using this…,” said La Musu Ali Ode, head of Liya Bahari village, “why shouldn’t other villages?”