Meeting the NGOs Active in Kemijen and Semarang

Blog Post by Ranjeeta Acharya, Planning Student at University of Hawaii, at Manoa

Today we had the opportunity to meet with some NGOs working in Semarang. These include Mercy Corps, Gerobak Hysteria, Perdikan, Pattiro and Bintari Foundation. These NGOs have worked with the communities in Kemijen to build resilience in various ways.

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The morning began with brief introductions of each of the NGOs, along with the highlights of their engagement in Semarang, particularly in the Kemijen area which we have been working. The conversation with the NGO officials was very insightful and helpful for us to know about what has already been done there, current efforts, future plans, and the major issues and challenges that the communities are facing in Kemijen. We came to know that lots of efforts have been made by different sectors in this area, however there are still many problems and much needs to be done.

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We begin first with efforts by Mercy Corps Indonesia. They were an early proponent of the  Asian Cities Climate Change and Resilience Network (ACCCRN), which works on climate change, urbanization, and resilience. Their efforts have helped catalyze some of the early planning to showcase Semarang as one of the Rockefeller Foundations 100 Resilient Cities.

The Bintari Foundation, which is an accronym in the Javanese language for sustainable development, works at a landscape scale. They work on upland restoration activities in the upper watershed where rapid land use change is taking place, and also along the coast to do Mangrove Restoration projects. They believe that there should be a reorientation of how we interact with the environment.

Perdikan, is an NGO much more active with the local communities in Kemijen. They specifically work on the Polder system management issues at the community level. They are also working with vulnerable populations, particularly widows to provide micro-finance lending to support home businesses.

Pattiro Semarang works at on governance issues. They help local communities to organize and understand how they can influence the planning process. They develop a network at the municipal and community level to oversee budgeting processes and to ensure accountability of implementation by the government.

Finally, we also heard from Gerobak Hysteria. They have been involved in place-building activities. They conduct participatory mapping to develop a database of key community functions. They also work to develop local arts activities, such as festival, to encourage a sense of place and ownership among vulnerable communities.

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After having our breakout sessions with each of the NGOs, we all worked together to summarize the findings. We also had the opportunity to present our preliminary work to the 100RC Chief Resilience Officer for Semarang. It was great to gather his input so we can prepare how to structure our engagement going forward. We are hopeful that our data collection, engagement with multiple stakeholders, and analysis can provide some important support to ongoing efforts to build community resilience.

Since we have been working very hard it’s also time to have a little bit of fun. After dinner, we all decided to go for a Karaoke night to enjoy and recharge ourselves for the next day!

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