Trump's 'drain the swamp' budget to hit swamp dwellers

mangrove Image copyright World Neighbors
Image caption Members of the local community have planted thousands of mangrove trees to help fight rising tides

"We're not spending money on climate change any more," said Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director.

"We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that."

That stern statement outlining President Trump's budget plans to cut spending on global warming in the US and around the world will disappoint the 6,000 people who live in the swampy Indonesian village of Cendi Manik.

They may not have heard much about the detail of the president's new financial priorities but they do know that US money has made a massive difference to their lives and livelihoods.

Climate change is driving up sea levels around this coastal habitation on the island of Lombok - but with funding from the US government through USAID, the World Neighbors NGO has helped residents of the village to plant 11,000 mangroves that have limited the worst impacts of tidal flooding.

The new trees not only help control the waters but they have also boosted supplies of shellfish and crabs, which are important sources of income when floods hit other crops. Tourism is also beginning to develop in the area.

The mangrove operation caught the attention of Indonesia's Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. So impressed were they that they've allocated funding to procure and plant another 120,000 tree seedlings to cover almost 10 hectares of threatened coastline.

US funding for Cendi Manik amounts to only a few thousand dollars and while it has been extended for another year, with USAID facing cuts of around one third of its budget, the future is highly uncertain.

Image copyright World Neighbors
Image caption The newly planted mangroves are already making a big difference for the local community

"We only have funding through 2018, but after that it's very unclear," said Dr Kate Schecter, World Neighbors CEO.

"It's not just about reducing climate change or poverty, it contributes to stability, it enhances the livelihoods of the people in these villages."

"It's the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, we have a strong relationship with them, Indonesia is an important ally for the US in Asia.

"If the village is destroyed by the sea all of these goals are null and void."

These arguments about the impact of climate change on political stability echo statements made by US Defence Secretary James Mattis in written testimony to his confirmation hearing.

Observers are also concerned that lesser known international bodies that deal with aspects of climate change might also be affected.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Initiatives to reduce methane from rice fields may be threatened

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition was set up to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. It is involved in work to reduce methane emissions from rice fields and trying to agree international fuel standards for heavy trucks. The US is a significant financial contributor.

According to Dr Andrew Light, a former senior climate change adviser at the US State Department, programmes like this may be in danger.

Now working at the World Resources Institute, Dr Light says the cuts may have severe long-term impacts for the US position in the world.

"I would argue that these would accelerate global destabilisation as well as seriously undermine America's strategic interests," he told BBC News.

"By cutting directly a bunch of programmes, how much influence is the US is going to lose in all these countries around the world that do get it?

"The US might have ideological blinkers on now but the rest of the planet doesn't."

Dr Schecter has just come back from a visit to the mangrove project in Indonesia, one of 35 villages her organisation is involved with in the region. She is clear in her view of the proposed budget cuts.

"I am very concerned about this type of xenophobic hunkering in and denying what's happening around the world.

"It will be disastrous on many levels."

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