Bridging Technical and Social Disciplines: Attending the International Conference on Sustainable Built Environment, Yogyakarta

Blog post by Micah Fisher, Learning from Disasters
The University of Hawaii (UH) began a partnership with UII in 2013. This partnership began with a symposium organized by the Asia Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (now R3ADY Asia-Pacific) Network. Since then, faculty have been working together and have also launched a dual master’s degree program that bridges technical (engineering) and social (planning) science approaches to disaster management. The dual program provides degrees that include a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering and Urban Planning. UH and UII have had joint collaborations on workshops and curriculum development as well. Professor Dolores Foley visited Universitas Islam Indonesia (UII) to give a keynote at a conference and to meet with partner faculty and students interested in pursuing the dual degree program.
The 4th International Conference on Sustainable Built Environment was held from October 12-14 at Universitas Islam Indonesia with the theme of Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Resource Management. Other keynote speakers arrived from Japan, Taiwan and the United States. Professor Foley’s presentation focused on the convergence of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation strategies, highlighting the training workshops across a network of university. These include: University of Hawaii, Universitas Islam Indonesia, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Universitas Gadja Mada, and Universitas Khairun have conducted through a grant of the USAID/OFDA Indonesia office.
We are pleased to announce that two students, Jafar Iskandar and Wisnu Erlangga have been accepted and will be the first to partake in the dual degree program. They will attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Spring 2017. Jafar is from Kalimantan and Wisnu is from Yogyakarta. They are currently enrolled in their Master’s in Civil Engineering with a focus on Earthquake Management, and will be attending the University of Hawaii to begin the Urban and Regional Planning portion of the Dual Degree program in Spring 2017. This program is a collaboration between UII, UH Manoa and the East-West Center.

Short Course on Vulnerability Assessments with Diponegoro University Students

Blog post by Micah Fisher, Learning from Disasters

In preparation for the joint practicum, UH was requested to deliver a short course to master’s students on vulnerability assessments and climate change adaptation and resilience (CCAR). The training delivery took place over a period of three days from October 26 – 28th, and included a field portion to test skills in  Kelurahan (urban village) Kemijen of Semarang. The attendees consisted of 13 students in total.

Day 1 – October 26, 2016:

Session 1 consisted of a short welcome by the head of the Diponegoro University Urban and Regional Planning department. Thereafter instructors (from University of Hawaii and the Initiative for Urban Climate Change and Environment, or IUCCE) facilitated a short activity to begin introductions among participants. Due to the time pressures, the aim was to get into an activity and quickly create the foundation for systems thinking. The initial activity included three questions: i) what is your understanding of climate change? ii) what is your knowledge of vulnerability assessments? and iii) what are you hopes for this training? These were written on post-it notes and placed on the board. As introductions were being made from the post-it’s the 13 participants were also formed into three different groups.

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The groups were then asked to conduct a visioning exercise to help them conceptualize systems thinking. The participants were familiar with the case study site in Kemijen and were asked to develop a vision for Kemijen and describe the supporting systems and stakeholders that could help achieve this. The purpose of this initial exercise was to understand the elements of a city fit together and how multiple hazards and sectors affect one another. The three groups named themselves: i) “Smart Kemijen,” ii) “Resilient Kemijen,” and iii) “Green Kemijen.” After their short presentations and a debrief the instructors raised questions about the challenges to achieving this vision. Furthermore, the additional threats of climate change are expected to exacerbate these existing challenges.


In Session 2, the instructors delivered material on climate change, how we know it is occurring, and how we understand it at different scales from global, to the Asia-Pacific, to the Indonesian national context, all the way to the Semarang municipal scale. The focus also highlighted the Adaptation imperative. This session also introduced the vulnerability framework, explaining the broader concepts of Exposure, Sensitivity, Impact, and Adaptive Capacity.


Day 2 – October 27, 2016

During Session 3, the instructors introduced more detailed explanations of Exposure and methods for identifying and measuring it. This was followed by group work that began to identify exposure for Kemijen. Participants were asked to identify aspects of exposure in terms of people, location, and assets. They also identified temporal dynamics as well. Furthermore, participants were asked to identify the sources of data, both top-down and bottom-up, which could help them better articulate the ways Kemijen is exposed to a hazard, and how this might be exacerbated with climate change. Session three also provided introductions on Sensitivity and Impact, which was followed by a similar exercise during the lunch break.


In Session 4, the instructors provided a brief introduction on adaptive capacity and used a video of Jakarta Climate Change Adaptation as examples to highlight similarly applicable interventions for Kemijen. These were aggregated between individual, community / group, and government adaptations. In this session the bulk of the discussion focused on moving from vulnerability assessments to action. The method provided was through a problem tree and objective tree exercise. This was a precursor for the group-work problem trees that the students would be doing in Kemijen through their fieldwork on the following morning. At the last part of the session, the participants had a discussion about developing a questionnaire that would help them target the key aspects of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. This provided them with a set of tools to help guide them in figuring out the key questions they have about vulnerability in Kemijen.

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Day 3: October 28th, 2016

For Session 5, the participants woke up early to travel to Kemijen. They were met there by the village administrator (Lurah) and also members of local community NGOs that would be helping the groups to conduct transect walks and interviews. The groups divided up and visited the large-scale, government implemented polder system to understand how the “living with harmony” concept is being implemented in the community. Participants also sought out locations that were higher risk, such as homes that had subsided dramatically in recent years (rate of 7-8 cm per year). Participants interviewed different people they met along the way. There were also notable findings about local sanitation initiatives, community based small scale water pump cooperatives, and participants also explored issues ranging from water supply to how the community has experienced flood over the years.

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Session 6 consisted of a facilitated workshop of the problem tree and objective tree based on findings in Kemijen. Having just three hours to prepare the students compiled and finalized their presentation materials. They were requested to present in front of a panel of faculty members from Diponegoro University. Each of the presentations were ten minutes long and covered elements of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. These then moved to problem tree and objective tree analyses that moved to potential follow up actions or recommendations that might be appropriate for a place like Kemijen.


Preparing for Action Research in Semarang: Studio/Practicum for Vulnerability Assessments

Blog post by Micah Fisher, Learning from Disasters

Planning students at the University of Hawaii are required to complete a practicum course to complete a master’s degree. These are intensive engagement on a planning concept that looks at implementation and action. This semester students in the practicum course have a unique opportunity to collaborate with a Universitas Diponegoro studio  on a project focused on flooding in Semarang, Indonesia. The posts for the coming weeks will be about the action research undertaken by students in this joint multicultural setting.

Semarang has been identified as a 100 Resilient City by the Rockefeller Foundation, who is supporting cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. In 2013, Semarang along with 33 other cities around the world was identified as part of the Resilient City Network as cities that had implemented innovative programs.

The Semarang Resilient City Initiative have developed a set of strategies to address a diverse range of issues including tidal flooding and flash floods, sanitation and waste management, congestion, and unemployment.

In developing a theme for the 2016 Fall Practicum faculty decided to build on the USAID project “Building Resilience through Training” and focus on flooding as this is one of the most critical disaster issues in Indonesia. In partnership with Universitas Dionegoro we agreed that this could be a joint focus of the UH planning practicum and the Diponegoro studio course. First however, the UH students conducted some practice interviews in the Hauula community in Oahu.

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The Semarang Resilience Team identified the community of Kemijen for the students to study, conduct a vulnerability assessment and present potential action steps.  Kemijen is a community that is vulnerable to flooding and subsidence, and we will be describing the vulnerabilities of this cite in upcoming posts.

The practicum students have been meeting via video tele-conferencing with faculty, students and the Resilient Semarang team and doing in-depth research for two months prior to visiting Semarang. The research has included multidisciplinary approaches to development challenges in terms of infrastructure, poverty, the environment, regional governance, and climate change. Part of the course included vulnerability workshops and assessments in Hawaii and in Semarang.


By looking at the case of Semarang and flood management, this course helps to think about moving from strategy to action by evaluating the programs that Semarang has undertaken and helping to formulate action plans going forward. UH students will be arriving in the first week of November and we look forward to sharing this action research initiative in upcoming posts.


DRR and CCA in West Papua Province

Blog post by Micah Fisher, Learning from Disasters
Charles Ham of HOPE Worldwide has been working with Universitas Papua to put on a conference on Disaster Management. Due to our long partnerships with HOPE conducting trainings on vulnerability assessments in Eastern Indonesia in the past few years we received an invitation from the rector of Universitas Papua to be part of the keynote session on mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) into planning practice. HOPE had invited Dr Hendri — the coordinator of the Climate Change and Disaster Mitigation Study Center at Universitas Papua — to attend our DRR and CCA strategies workshop In August 2016. After attending the workshops in Ternate, Dr Hendri requested our involvement because they have an interest in initiating programs focusing on disaster management and climate change. They are hoping to establish and get programs running for their disaster center similar to initiatives among our partners at Universitas Khairun. As part of this conference taking place in the city of Manokwari, we were requested to establish coordination between University of Hawaii and Universitas Papua on DRR and CCA.
West Papua province is a province of Indonesia and was created in 2003. It now covers the “bird’s head” of the island and the famous tourism destinations of the Raja Ampat islands to the west. The total population of the province is estimated at just under a million people. West Papua, when combined with the neighboring province of Papua, is the most geographically and culturally diverse of Indonesia’s provinces, with more than 250 Melanesian indigenous ethnic groups. The majority of its population are Christian. Geographically, West Papua and Papua province forests together cover 42 million hectares, or a quarter of Indonesia’s total forested area, and is home to over half of Indonesia’s biodiversity.
It is also prone to disasters and climate change. As with many areas in Indonesia they are at risk for many disasters: earthquakes, floods, tsunami and storm surge. The map below  from UN OCHA demonstrates the risk and its remoteness.
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The sense is that West Papua gets fewer opportunities for training in these areas. We are now looking to establish trainings on vulnerability assessments next April. They would like to use this as an opportunity to establish some research to action activities among vulnerable communities in the province.
The Rector also expressed a desire to develop a full program on disaster management, but this requires overcoming some key hurdles that will still take time. But the long range plans are in the works. In the meantime, we are looking for opportunities that the university and its collaborators can provide.
While we were there, we went along the coast and looked at some of the adaptations that are taking place. There is a major focus on building a seawall along the coast. This focus on hard infrastructure along the coast, while providing immediate protection, also brings other management and ecological challenges.
The views are picturesque, with many landscapes that look in many ways “pristine.” The changing access to the region and the rich natural resources located there foreshadow some intense pressures and changes with the planned trajectory of development. There are vast plantation expansion plans in the region and people noted their fear of losing the forests to development.
We also had the opportunity to meet with the governor, rector, and BPBD. They were all very supportive of the idea that there is a need for more collaboration and more training.