Post-Earthquake Response and Reconstruction: Gender-sensitive advocacy in Indonesia

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Around one million Indonesians are affected by natural disasters every year. Despite significant government investment in early warning systems and disaster management, the impact of the 2009 earthquake in West Sumatra showed that much more needs to be done. Oxfam's post-earthquake advocacy work aimed to build understanding of how gender inequality shapes vulnerability and to promote women's participation in designing the emergency response.
  GENDER EQUALITY IN EMERGENCIES OCTOBER 2012 Oxfam Programme Insights   POST-EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE AND RECONSTRUCTION Gender-sensitive advocacy in Indonesia Ibu Darmulis, a public health community mobiliser in West Sumatra (Boy Amra/Kabisat/Oxfam local partner) Around one million Indonesians are affected by natural disasters every year. Despite significant government investment in early warning systems and disaster management, the impact of the 2009 earthquake in West Sumatra showed that much more needs to be done. Oxfam’s post -earthquake advocacy work aimed to build understanding of how gender inequality shapes vulnerability and to promote women’s participation in designing the emergency response. Oxfam conducted research into the differential impact of the earthquake on men and women supported the UN and the government of Indonesia to integrate this information into their own responses.  2 Programme Insights: Gender Equality in Emergencies: Practical Lessons INTRODUCTION The Republic of Indonesia is a vast archipelago of thousands of islands spread between Asia and Australia. It has a population of more than 230 million, although fewer than half of the islands are inhabited. Indonesia has made advances in reducing poverty over the past few decades and is now rated as a middle- income country. The country’s gross national income per capita rose from $2,200 in 2000 to $3,720 in 2009 1 . It ranks in the top five countries that have made the fastest progress in human development from 1970 to 2010, on income and non-income dimensions. 2  Important pro-democracy legislation has been enacted and the country now has a free media. Despite this progress, the increase in prosperity has been highly uneven. Poverty levels remain high and more than 32 million Indonesians currently live below the poverty line, with approximately half of all households remaining clustered around the national poverty line set at 200,262 rupiahs per month ($22). 3  Oxfam has been working in Indonesia since 1972, focusing on creating sustainable livelihoods, promoting gender equality, and improving disaster preparedness and mitigation. A key objective for Oxfam’s future work is that the poor  est and most vulnerable people are better able to cope with shocks, including human-made and natural disasters and the negative impacts of climate change. Oxfam has prioritised support for w omen’s capacities to prepare for, respond to, and lead in disaster situations. Lying near the intersection of shifting tectonic plates, Indonesia is prone to natural hazards, including tropical flooding, droughts, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. The country is rated at ‘extreme risk’ and ranked second (after Bangladesh) in terms of vulnerability on Maplecroft's Natural Disaster Risk Index 2010. 4  On average, one million Indonesians are affected by natural disasters every year. From 1980 to 2008, there were 293 natural disasters, which caused an estimated $21.2bn in economic losses. The government has made efforts to reduce the risks people face from natural disasters. Early warning systems have been developed, and in 2007, a new Law on Disaster Management (Law 24/2007) was enacted as well as regulations and guidelines for its implementation. The government also established a National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), repli cated in some of the country’s p rovinces. Yet the aftermath of the 2009 earthquake showed that existing efforts did not significantly reduce the risks or impact on people’s lives . Much more needs to be done to build people’s resilience to future disasters. GENDER ISSUES Despite the Indonesian government’s strong commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, with an established legal framework and institutions in place at national and provincial level to implement it, progress has been mixed and significant challenges remain. Women’s participation in decision -making at all levels is very low; just 1 per cent of the 500 bupatis  (head of district, and therefore one of the most powerful local government positions under decentralisation) are women. The same appears to be the case in the institutions charged with disaster management and preparedness. In Indonesia, women are generally more vulnerable to chronic poverty due to gender inequalities in the distribution of income and access to credit, and unequal control over property and natural resources. Women’s access to paid employment , and wages when in employment, is also lower than that of men. While the total number of men in paid work has continued to rise, women’s employment has stagnated or decreased, among both the existing female labour force and new female entrants to the labour market. In 2005, the percentage of women in paid employment was 40 per cent lower than that of men. 5    Post-earthquake response and reconstruction: Gender-sensitive advocacy in Indonesia 3 Women are also disproportionately affected by disasters and emergencies. They are more likely to die, or to experience major changes in their role, including taking on greater care-giving responsibilities for younger or older survivors  –  often with little support and few resources. They play a central role within the family, securing relief from emergency authorities, meeting the immediate needs of survivors, and managing temporary relocation. Destruction of homes, water, and other facilities puts considerable strain on women’s ability to carry out these responsibilities; and when food is scarce, women usually reduce their own food intake before that of their children and/or their husband.   Women play a vital part in disaster mitigation and response efforts, whether acting within their traditional gender roles or going beyond them. But despite this, they are often portrayed as victims, and their central role in delivering the response is frequently overlooked. Given the size and spread of the Indonesian archipelago, it is not surprising that it is home to many different ethnic groups. In the province of West Sumatra, one of the country’s most disaster-prone areas, the Minangkabau  ethnic group (also known as Minang   or Padang  ) is indigenous to the highlands. Their culture is matrilineal, with property and rice land passing down from mother to daughter, while religious and political affairs are the realm of men (although some women also play important roles in these areas). Women and girls in West Sumatra have had an active role in the economy and thus are significantly affected by the damage to property and disruption to communication and markets caused by disasters. Because of widespread male migration, there are many female-headed households across West Sumatra, many of whom (especially older women) may be excluded from or unable to take up available support when a disaster strikes. EARTHQUAKE IMPACT AND RESPONSE On 30 September 2009, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale struck a densely populated area (home to 4.3 million people) in West Sumatra. Eight areas were worst affected (see map): Padang city, Pariaman city, Padang Pariaman district, Bukittinggi city, Pesisir Selatan district, Solok district, Pasaman Barat district, and Agam district. More than 1,000 people died and more than 3,000 were injured. Approximately 300,000 houses were damaged and there was considerable destruction of schools and hospitals. Around 6,000 people were displaced by landslides in the districts of Agam and Padang Pariaman. Oxfam was involved in the emergency response to meet people’s immediate needs and was well placed to respond because of the disaster preparedness mechanisms that had already been put in place, including a programme focused on building relevant skills of local partners. This paper focuses on Oxfam’s advocacy work, which aimed to strengthen women’s participation and increase their visibility in the 2009 earthquake response and in future humanitarian responses. Within hours of the earthquake, the Indonesian government declared a state of emergency and subsequently requested international assistance. The government planned to provide 100bn rupiah for the emergency operation that would meet the needs of 200,000 affected people.   Commitment to provide assistance, either financial or emergency response, came from international agencies as well as other countries. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) activated six clusters 6  to support the government ’s response:  shelter, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), education, food, health, and protection.  4 Programme Insights: Gender Equality in Emergencies: Practical Lessons However, a rapid response by the international community was hampered by the lack of clear data on the nature and scale of need. The Indonesian government declared the end of the emergency phase on 30 November 2009 and the rehabilitation and reconstruction plan for West Sumatra was also finalised in late November. Its implementation spanned until 2011. In January 2010, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) established a Technical Assistance Team to help the governor of West Sumatra implement the rehabilitation and reconstruction plan. As the province had not yet established its Provincial Disaster Response Agency, the Technical Assistance Team played the key role of policy-making and decision-making body, co-ordinating the response of many national and international humanitarian actors. It also developed and shared technical implementation guidelines, and provided other policy inputs to the governor. For this reason, Oxfam decided to provide policy support to the Technical Assistance Team, focusing on facilitating the involvement of West Sumatra civil society organisations in co-ordination meetings, and mainstreaming w omen’s rights among community facilitators implementing the reconstruction phase at village level. Though co-ordination and information management was generally considered adequate, especially between government and UN clusters, local NGOs, including women’s organisations , did not strongly participate in cluster activities, and gaining access to government representatives for influencing purposes proved difficult. This was because of women’s lack of information, language skills, and even transport to get to meetings. Co-ordination mechanisms had also not provided adequate space and opportunity for women and their representatives to participate, or to voice women’s issues and needs. OXFAM’S RESPONSE  A week after the earthquake, Oxfam’s West Sumatra Earthquake Response Plan was developed and began to be implemented, a process that continued for five months. Its interlinking objectives covered the response and recovery phases: emergency shelter, WASH, livelihood recovery, and advocacy for improved emergency response and disaster risk reduction (DRR). The specific objectives of the plan were: ã  to ensure effective communication and co-ordination among humanitarian actors, i.e. government, UN agencies, international and national NGOs; ã  to ensure that the needs of the worst-affected communities, including women and men, are met; ã  to ensure women’s active participation in designing the humanitarian response, which must address their short-term practical needs as well as their longer-term strategic needs; ã  to ensure that the response in specific sectors adhered to minimum standards established by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) 7  and Sphere; 8   ã  to promote sound disaster risk reduction measures and policies for the province. The longer-term intentions of the programme are referred to in the following press release of 4 October 2009. David MacDonald, Oxfam’s Indonesia Emergency Response Manager  , said, ‘Needs are huge in Padang and they don’t just include immediate emergency supplies. Oxfam is also looking at how best we can help people to get back on to their feet quickly  –  those affected need to be able to get on with rebuilding their lives after the devastation.’    Oxfam’s a dvocacy strategy and operational plan included objectives on advocacy and research to strengthen engagement with those in positions of power. It also aimed to build an evidence base that could be continually updated in collaboration with the international community,
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