Indonesia Case Study: Jenggala's women living close to disaster

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Oxfam Indonesia has been working with local partner organisation Koslata to change attitudes which leave people vulnerable to disaster and to assist the community of Jenggala with disaster risk reduction (DRR). The aim of DRR activities is to help the community to better prepare for floods and landslides and to reduce the negative impacts of such hazards. The programme has sought to engage women in DRR activities both because women
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  OXFAM CASE STUDY www.oxfam.org.uk  Separated group discussion of women was held in Jenggala Village, Lombok Utara district; women discussed about their vulnerability and capacity to build resilience to flood disaster risk, Building District Resilience Project, 2011. (Yenny Widjaja / Oxfam) INDONESIA CASE STUDY Jenggala’s women living close to disaster Oxfam Indonesia has been working with local partner organisation Koslata to change attitudes which leave people vulnerable to disaster and to assist the community of Jenggala with disaster risk reduction (DRR). The aim of DRR activities is to help the community to better prepare for floods and landslides and to reduce the negative impacts of such hazards.   The programme has sought to engage women in DRR activities both because women’s participation enables them to benefit from DRR activities, manage their livelihoods and reduce food insecurities and because women’s exclusion deprives the projects of vital skills, knowledge and capabilities which the women possess.  2 INTRODUCTION The village of Jenggala is located in the hilly North Lombok District of West Nusa Tenggara in eastern Indonesia. The main livelihood of the community is rice farming which is supplemented by cultivating bamboo, coffee, corn, coconuts and bananas. Women take primary responsibility for both cultivating the crops and trading them locally. However, these livelihoods are threatened by frequent floods and landslides. Flooding destroys homes, drowns livestock and inundates agricultural land causing crop failure. Landslides cause deluges of mud and uproot trees, which block access routes to hill-top gardens meaning that any crops which survive the floods cannot be harvested before they spoil. Since 2010 Oxfam Indonesia has been working with local partner organisation Koslata to change attitudes which leave people vulnerable to disaster and to assist the community of Jenggala with disaster risk reduction (DRR). The aim of DRR activities is to help the community to better prepare for floods and landslides and to reduce the negative impacts of such hazards. DRR includes improving the community’s knowledge about how to minimise the impact of floods and landslides on life, property and livelihoods; conducting Participatory Capacities and Vulnerability Assessments (PCVA); developing community action plans; and organizing and training village disaster preparedness teams. Central to all these activities is the empowerment of women and the advancement of gender equality. WOMEN AND DISASTERS The programme has sought to engage women in DRR activities both because women’s participation enables them to benefit from DRR activities, manage their livelihoods and reduce food insecurities and because women’s exclusion deprives the projects of vital skills, knowledge and capabilities which the women possess. This is illustrated by these examples: ã  In Jenggala it is usually women who labour in remote fields and hill-top gardens. Landslides and floods obstruct access to these remote locations compromising their personal safety and livelihoods. However, this means that women often have a better understanding of where floods and landslides are likely to occur. Men’s roles are often organisational or business-related so they are less aware of what happens in the fields. ã  Although women are less likely to have access to weather-related early warning systems or be informed about oncoming rains and floods, social networks among women are strong. This means that information can be disseminated in informal ways such as through social gatherings and during conversations with friends and relatives. In this way, essential information about disaster preparedness reaches entire families who may not otherwise have benefited from such knowledge.   3 ã  Although gender discrimination frequently excludes women from decision-making about community disaster response, their dominance in the domestic sphere means they have more knowledge than men about the production, preparation and distribution of food.  Additionally, their long-standing role as family carers means that they are often very knowledgeable about medical care. This kind of knowledge saves lives in emergency situations. ã  Women are also well placed to contribute to disaster recovery as they often have several sources of income away from the farm. Expanding these business opportunities is vital when natural disasters reduce income from agricultural activities. Promoting women’s participation in DRR Key steps were taken to support women to engage in DRR work in Jenggala, for example, through joining village disaster preparedness teams and women’s self-help groups. ã    A stakeholder mapping exercise was conducted . Oxfam encouraged partner Koslata to map actors in the community that do and don’t support women’s initiatives. This fed into community discussions. ã   Separate meetings were held for women and men . This created a space for women to discuss their needs and vulnerabilities without being silenced by men. The differences between men’s and women’s needs were illuminated and women were able to make their voices heard. In meetings where both men and women were present women were especially encouraged to speak. When their thoughts and ideas were listened to women gained confidence to express their needs in other aspects of daily life. ã   Both men and women were introduced to concepts of gender equality . Community meetings were used to raise both women’s and men’s awareness of gender equality issues and women’s rights. For example, the groups explored women’s and men’s different experiences, capacities and vulnerabilities, and the effect these have on disaster preparedness. ã   Quotas were set for women’s participation . A minimum quota of 30 per cent was set for women’s participation in all DRR activities, to ensure that women were not excluded from information and knowledge about DRR. ã   Women were actively encouraged and supported to participate in activities . Women learned about different DRR activities during community meetings, and came to appreciate their own knowledge and capacity. This realisation that they have a role to play in DRR, and a corresponding growth in self-confidence, encouraged them to get involved. They also discussed barriers to participation, and gained support from each other to overcome these. Women who got involved in activities at an early stage acted as positive role models, and were encouraged to share information with other women.  4 ã   Women were educated about early warning signs of disaster and how to respond appropriately . This has facilitated women’s independent reactions to climate-related hazards, reduced their reliance on men and strengthened women’s belief in their own capabilities. As women gained better knowledge about disasters, men had greater respect for women’s contribution to DRR activities. ã   Capacity building on leadership skills was targeted at women . Women were supported to take on leadership positions and others’ recognition of women’s capacity to fulfil these roles has improved. This has empowered women to engage in other civil society activities in Jenggala. The inclusion of women in the management of DRR activities creates a more accessible channel for other women in the village to express their concerns and needs. ã   Influential men were targeted to gain their support . Koslata identified influential men in the community and approached them to gain their support to ensure the 30 per cent quota for women’s participation was met. They took time to explain why women’s participation was necessary. Preparing to Respond to Disasters Women in Jenggala have been enthusiastic about participating in and leading DRR activities. They have shown great interest in acquiring information about disaster preparedness and consider this knowledge to be very important. In joining village disaster preparedness teams, they identified how their skills can be used and why their contribution is important. Their active engagement in such activities counteracts the assumption that women are too busy to engage in extra work and training. Sabarni is a housewife who volunteered to be a member of the village disaster preparedness team. If a disaster occurs, she will work in the field kitchen preparing food for those displaced from their homes by floods and landslides. Her responsibilities include collecting food during the onset of a disaster, preparing the food hygienically so as to limit the spread of disease, and, most importantly, monitoring food supplies during the immediate recovery period. Sabarni also took the initiative to motivate her friends and neighbours to prepare for possible disasters. Some were inspired to attend first aid courses so they can assist in disaster response. Others were motivated to plant trees in the hills near their farms so as to reduce the risk of landslides occurring. By initiating discussions about disaster preparedness in informal settings, Sabarni educates those in the village who would not otherwise have access to such knowledge and information. Her social networks provide valuable channels of communication among villagers. Sabarni and other team members have also attended simulations of disaster situations at the Jenggala administration offices. This gave them the opportunity to practice their responses. Although the village disaster preparedness team has not yet been called into action, Sabarni knows how she must act when the next floods or landslides come.
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