Vulnerability Assessment: Kampung Makassar Timur, Ternate

July 30, 2016

Today we began our vulnerability assessments at four different villages. This is an exciting opportunity for the workshop participants to visit a community and collect data for an assessment. They are tasked with collecting top-down and bottom-up data through statistics and official figures, and interviews with the community.

Each village had a multi-stakeholder assessment team, including university researchers/lecturers, local disaster agency staff, NGOs, and others.

We convened at the training site for some basic logistic instruction and teams were off to their respective sites, two villages in Ternate, and two in Tidore.

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This post covers the assessment from the group that visited an urban village (kelurahan) called Makassar Timur. As the name of the village suggests, this is an area with a long history of local populations, and a high number of migrants who come to work at the nearby marketplace. As it is along the coast, some also work as fishermen. According to one proud local resident, “1,001 ethnic groups are represented her, and that all of Indonesia could be found in this one small kampung (village).”

Kelurahan Makassar Timur underwent change when a major land reclamation project changed the coastline between 1999 – 2004. Although the reclamation supported urban economic development for the island, it also created some difficult development challenges for this village. On the one hand, the reclamation project also helped to reduce tidal flooding that used to affect the area. However, reclamation also resulted in backflow from upstream runoff that has created a new form of flooding hazards. Reclamation also allowed for new land area to be filled in with local informal housing. These areas are usually important for drainage functions and many of the homes are built on stilts.

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Drainage problems have also resulted in environmental health concerns. Trash has built up from lack of waste disposal options. Waste from the upstream areas also tends to collect in this area.

Water supply is another challenge as well as the available clean water has experienced salt water intrusion in recent years. Piped connections from the water utility do not tend to cover this area, and when they do, that water is also salty. Other people have self-organized a system of wells that they can pay into.

Sanitation is also difficult in a low-lying and frequently inundated area as this one. Septic tanks are difficult to install and there have been some innovative efforts by NGOs to build floating septic tanks.

Fires are also a major problem for this village. In 2003 and 2009 fires completely razed the area but within months people had quickly rebuilt their structures. We met with the Lurah (Village Headman) and he convened a focus group discussion of all the RT and RWs (neighborhood wards), and also invited other representative groups from the community to attend. We had a rich discussion about the complex local vulnerabilities.

There are a lot of local community and non-government organizations that take part in addressing these issues. The mayor has sent a directive to provide support for reducing risks in this kelurahan. The local disaster management agency is eager to help out by conducting risk assessments and to begin coordinating planned interventions and it seems that our simulated efforts will be developed into more long-term planning efforts.

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Day 3: Preparation for Vulnerability Assessments

July 29th, 2016

This day began with an introduction on community resilience. Dr. Tubagus Furqon Sofhani of Bandung Institute of Technology’s Regional and Rural Planning Research Group shared various approaches to working with communities and measuring resilience indicators. The discussion focused on developing indicators and methodologies for measuring resilience in communities. We learned about the case in Pangandaran, West Java, which suffered from a powerful tsunami that struck the region ten years ago. We also learned how research efforts were measuring how resilience indicators have progress in the post-recovery conditions there.

Thereafter, the discussion shifted to fieldwork preparation. How does one prepare for a vulnerability assessment? How do we collect the accurate data from existing sources, develop some initial indicators, formulate key questions to take to the community, and access the right local information to create a well-informed multi-stakeholder assessment in a short amount of time. How then do we make sure that are our assessments are accountable to the multiple stakeholders involved? To do this, the participants were divided into four teams: Two villages in Ternate, two in Tidore. We divided maps among the groups.

To initiate a vulnerability assessment, we first had to provide a framework and key concepts. The building blocks of vulnerability applied in this training include two key variables: impact and adaptive capacity. Furthermore, impact can be defined in terms of exposure and sensitivity. To initiate the process, we begin with exposure. Using the map, censuses, and other available data teams began to develop the extent to which people, places, and assets are exposed to hazards. These hazards were described in terms of likelihood, intensity and frequency.

Thereafter, we conducted a similar process of mapping and developing indicators (via proxies) for sensitivity. To what extent will people, places, and assets be affected once they are exposed to hazards? We also sought to explain direct and indirect impacts for each of the villages, looking at how individuals, community groups, and government are affected. Finally we did the same with adaptive capacity, seeking to develop indicators and proxies that determine resilience.

Each of the groups made their indicators and research questions applicable to each unique settng. Tomorrow morning we will be venturing out to each of the target areas to meet with local officials and community members. At each village we will be conducting sample transects to gather the necessary information for the vulnerability assessment.

A team conducts vulnerability assessment preparation to go to Makassar Timur, Ternate

**For helpful resources to training materials, see the course developed by the East-West Center and University of Hawaii for USAID’s ADAPT Asia-Pacific Project. Locally-adapted versions of these courses are also being developed with ITB’s Climate Change Center and Khairun University’s Climate Study Center**

Day 2: Making Climate Policy Relevant


This morning we began with a discussion on the institutional aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Indonesia. Climate change is a dizzying topic often explained at a global scale. How do we operationalize these into policies and how do we know the way in which climate changes will affect us in particular areas?

Dr. Wilmar Salim of Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) Urban and Regional Planning Department explained how Indonesia has been part of international policies, frameworks, and agreements. He showed how these joint global commitments have also been contextualized in Indonesia. The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 crippled Aceh, and presented a strong impetus for putting disaster management on the policy agenda. Since then Indonesia has made tremendous strides in implementing disaster management at many scales of government. Disaster management has also evolved over time to focus more on risk reduction rather than response. This requires engaging with major planning processes at multiple scales of government, such as conduct risk assessments, connecting with spatial plans, environmental assessments, and development programs.

Thereafter the discussion shifted to specific hazards affecting Indonesia. Dr. Djoko Suroso described three of the most common and destructive natural hazards in Indonesia, especially in North Maluku. These are floods, landslides, and coastal hazards. Each of these hazards will only get worse with higher intensity rainfall, sea-level rise, seasonal shifts, and more dramatic storm events.

These impacts affect people’s lives everyday across this vast archipelago. To make climate relevant locally, the discussion arrived at three main principles. The first is to ensure that there is common agreement on main impacts. The more stakeholders that can contextualize and understand the urgency of taking a particular action, the easier it will be to get buy in on adaptation efforts locally. Second, we need to start thinking about actions. These actions must also be premised on the priorities developed from building a common, local understanding of the problem. Third, it’s also important to get away from the tendency that new programs bring heavy new bureaucracies and burdens. Therefore, ways in which to express that adapting to climate change doesn’t mean reorganizing government, but rather, that actions are important for building a common agenda can help. Herein it is possible to find an organizational home for the main actions and to also cultivate accountability around particular actions.

Are there others? Certainly. How do we make climate relevant for diverse communities, some with an understanding of climate change and others who might not have the time or opportunity to react to them? That is, how do we avoid the risks associated with increasingly complex problems.

Tomorrow we will be working to develop the framework for conducting a vulnerability assessment.

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Workshop Day 1: from Global to Local

July 27, 2016

The workshop kicked off with an opening ceremony led by Khairun University, Hope Worldwide, and the University of Hawaii. The Rector of Khairun, Dr Husen Alting, highlighted the early successes and future vision of the Disaster Research Center. Charles Ham, the Global Disaster Response Coordinator of Hope Worldwide also opened with remarks about the importance of changing to a paradigm of prevention – to begin looking for ways to reduce risks before disasters happen.

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Opening Ceremony with Khairun University, Bandung Institute of Technology, Hope Worldwide, University of Hawaii, and participants from across Eastern Indonesia

The Head of Khairun’s Disaster Research Center, Ridwan Lessy expressed his enthusiasm about the event and his high hopes for expanding the network of knowledge on disasters. He described his vision of action research to support local needs and planning efforts. Dolores Foley, at the Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (DMHA) program at the University of Hawaii Department of Urban and Regional Planning also talked about the partnership and vision that allowed for this workshop to come together. Both PSB and DMHA share the same goals of developing curriculum, training up local stakeholders, creating a community of research and practice, and exploring what it means to build resilience.

The introduction of the workshop focused on key global development challenges and describing the System’s approach, a move away from single sector issues to understanding the many elements that interact to create risk: the agents, processes, institutions, places and assets.

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The workshop also detailed the science behind climate change. How do we know it is happening? What are the global level science and processes behind it, how do scientists arrive at these conclusions, and furthermore, what trends are we seeing locally? Numerous stories emerged about seasonal changes affecting crop systems; unprecedented ocean dynamics causing livelihood challenges for those dependent on the sea.

A lively discussion ensued on how to interpret climate impacts locally. Issues were raised about the importance of data, making the issues understood in local terms, and influencing local leadership to champion these efforts. The participants were tasked with persuading local elected officials with the importance of incorporating climate change into local planning processes.

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Ridwan Lessy of the Khairun University Disaster Study Center role plays how to make climate change relevant for local decision makers 

Tomorrow we will shift to the institutional and legal frameworks that support Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA). We will also be discussing the science behind the most common disasters affecting the region, namely: floods, landslides, and coastal processes.

Preparation: Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Strategies Workshop

July 26, 2016

We begin our workshop tomorrow. In preparation, we were invited to meet with the Rector and Vice Rectors of Khairun University. The setting was stunning, delightful for the beauty of landscapes, but also reminders of the potential hazards.

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Khairun’s expanded role as a state university in the past decade has made it a hub for Eastern Indonesia. We discussed the role of the newly established Disaster Research Center (PSB) at Khairun University and the Rector proudly shared the early impacts of the Center across different programs. In the Indonesia state university system undergraduate students are required to conduct a field study component in local communities. These students have been working in cities, towns, and villages — with schools and other community organizations — communicating the importance of disaster risk reduction.

The Disaster Research Center has also worked with different districts on conducting vulnerability assessments, mapping out risks and jointly supporting planning efforts.

We are looking forward to getting started with the workshop tomorrow:

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The attendance was originally targeted to increasing the capacity of local universities in order to develop curriculum and supporting planning efforts. However, to build multi-stakeholder forums, Khairun’s Disaster Research Center has decided to reach out to other types of organizations. Four different universities make up the core group of attendees, but representatives from local government disaster management agencies, planning agencies, and NGOs also plan to attend. Nearby provinces will also send attendees to expand the disaster network and begin similar initiatives across Eastern Indonesia. Representatives from the provinces for Maluku and West Papua will also be in attendance.

A unique feature of the workshop involves field visits to four different villages, which we look forward to reporting in the coming days.

Morotai: History, Hazards, and Tourism

July 24-25

We arrived in Morotai Island, a short flight from Ternate. Flying over the large spider-like island of Halmahera, the interior landscape looked pristine and heavily forested, with some large scale natural resource operations around the perimeters, and some transmigration villages occupying some small pockets for settlement areas.

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Upon arrival the local disaster agency (BPBD), who attended our joint trainings in 2015 picked us up and we held a short meeting at their offices. They shared maps and information about the main hazards: last year tornadoes destroyed several homes; a tsunami in the 1980s; landslides. The main concern however, are the coastal hazards. We visited a site experiencing constant erosion problems from storms that increases in intensity during March and April, and bring higher intensity wave action. They lamented that every year they work with the public works agency to rebuild the seawall to protect this main road connecting the northern part of the island. Several communities have relocated and numerous other villages face relocation due to these coastal hazards.

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As a result of both geographic features, a unique history, and overall tourism potential, the government has designated the island as a special economic zone. This recent designation comes with increased budgets, and in the case of Morotai, has resulted in higher populations (currently about 62,000 people). Morotai is one of the furthest northern islands of Indonesia and is in close proximity to the Philippines making it of strategic sovereign importance for Indonesia. Morotai also played a strategic role in World War II, and the Battle of Morotai was acknowledged to be a key turning point in the pacific theater against Japanese forces. Finally, the combination of dive and surf tourism makes Morotai an ideal location. The national government is supporting a major tourism development plan, which has recently gotten underway. These plans are still not fully formed however, as there are transportation and access problems to draw vacationers to this remote location. Be that as it may, we saw plans under construction: structures being built for World War II museums and memorials, and new parks adjoined by a row of outdoor evening restaurants. We had excellent fish barbecues along the pier, which boasted a major sign of Morotai Daloha. We wondered about the connection to Hawaii’s aloha.

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We also wanted to interact with villages and to see the broader layout of Morotai Island District. The BPBD and the University of the Pacific invited us on one of their speedboats to see some of Morotai’s other small islands. They wanted to show us the increasingly popular tourist destination of Dodola Island, which at low tide forms a sand bridge that connects two different islands; or what has come to be called “heaven on earth.” The smaller islands we passed were mostly uninhabited but where there was access to water small fishing villages could also be found.

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In just one day we had learned a tremendous amount from our rapid vulnerability assessment, reminding us of the importance of local partnership and their commitment to the issues. Before returning to Ternate we held one final discussion with the BPBD office and our university partners. The BPBD has challenges in developing DRR plans and Contingency Plans. They have worked to certify a handful of “Resilient Villages” but imagine a much more holistic role for themselves. We are hopeful that the upcoming trainings and the partnership with universities can provide opportunities to overcoming these capacity challenges.

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Ternate, North Maluku

July 23, 2016


Today we arrived in Ternate, North Maluku to work with partners Khairun University. In the upcoming week we will conduct a joint workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. Khairun University’s disaster study center has created a forum with four other universities in North Maluku to begin building a network across Eastern Indonesia on disaster risk reduction. The idea is to build capacity among local governments to identify vulnerability and risk, and increase adaptive capacity. Furthermore, the disaster study center works to expand the study of disasters.

We will be sharing more about the workshop throughout the coming week.

North Maluku has a long history, particularly for its importance in the spice trade. The different sultanates of the region once had far-reaching influence and remain an important aspect of cultural identity. Nutmeg, clove, and other spice groves continue to form an integral part of the regional economy. The spice trees can be seen growing on the hillsides, and the harvests, often dried along roadsides create wafts of unique aromas.

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Ternate, and the North Maluku regional geography consist of numerous small islands shaped by powerful volcanic activity. Settlement areas in Ternate sit beneath the extremely active Gamalama volcano. Gamalama often develops, what locals call a strong “cough.” In the mid 19th century an eruption destroyed the city. Recent major eruptions occurred in 1980, 1983, 1994, and 2011. Although the threat of a destructive volcanic event looms with limited evacuation options, discussions with residents reveal that they are much more preoccupied with everyday development challenges, such as: drainage and flooding, water quality and availability, housing, and economic opportunity.


With a population of over 200,000 in an area just 250 square km, the city is densely populated and continues to grow. Sprawling settlements reach higher into the upper catchment areas and build closer into flat areas within ravines. The city is also experiencing rapid growth since North Maluku became a province in 1999. Attempts were made to move the city to Sofifi, but people are reluctant to leave the strategic location of Ternate City.


Next weekend we will be conducting rapid vulnerability assessments with four villages. We hope to learn much more about the drivers and dynamics of hazard and risk, and to work with local partners to collaboratively think about increasing resilience.


Expanding University Partnerships

July 22nd, 2016

Today we visited Podomoro University to develop further linkages on university partnerships. A former UHM DURP alum, Dr I Made IM Brunner is the new Chair of the Environmental Engineering Department. We discussed the expanding models of partnerships whereby undergraduate programs link to graduate programs. We also shared the breadth of disaster training partnerships ongoing with Indonesian universities.

Podomoro is a new university, just two years old, and has high hopes to play an important role in higher education. Here we are with Dr Johannes Prajitno, Vice Rector of Academic Affairs and other faculty from the university, discussing the role of universities in addressing key sustainability issues.

Click on the link, for more information on Podomoro University 

In the afternoon we also met with long-time partners at the Indonesia Islamic University (UII). In October, they will be hosting a conference in which Professor Dolores Foley will give a keynote address. Click here for more information on the conference

To attend and get involved click on the image below:

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