Short Course on Vulnerability Assessments with Diponegoro University Students

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.



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