In 2016 the University of Hawaii (UH) partnered with Diponegoro University (UNDIP) in a joint studio/practicum project to work on an urban resilience project in collaboration with the Resilience Office of the City of Semarang, Indonesia. The Resilience Office had two core objectives for the studio/practicum. First, they hoped the practicum could help develop an approach to conducting vulnerability assessments to build resilience in key target sectors in Semarang. Second, the Resilience Office also identified geographical priority areas. In particular, they hoped that focusing the work on Kemijen (a kelurahan, or urban village administrative unit) could present a strategic opportunity for piloting a vulnerability assessment and action plan on flooding and flood-related issues.
Kemijen is a unique community when it comes to building resilience. The area has experienced flooding for over 20 years, which is compounded by dramatic land subsidence that continues to undermine many development projects supporting the community. However, Kemijen has also made significant institutional and programmatic interventions that provide the foundation for building a framework for resilience going forward. The vulnerability assessment focuses on Kemijen as a test case for developing a vulnerability framework approach, while also looking for opportunities to implement action plans that tackle key resilient building efforts for the community.
The UH and UNDIP joint studio/practicum (the project team) began by reviewing all documentation for the region and developing a comprehensive review of resilience frameworks. In addition, the project team met remotely with subject matter experts that ranged from sectoral expertise to administrative staff from the City of Semarang. These discussions helped guide research and provide perspectives on the complex inter-related aspects regarding resilience in the area. The project team identified key exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity indicators to map the scope of work for the assessment. A series of household surveys, government interview questions, NGO interview questions and community focus group activities were designed to guide data collection and approach analysis. With support from USAID, the project team was able to travel to Kemijen, Semarang and conduct the study. The project team completed a series of stakeholder engagement activities and field research to identify vulnerabilities in Kemijen. Although the initial vulnerability assessment highlighted flooding as the core problem, data indicated a complex interaction of four key elements that all require due consideration in order to effectively move towards building resilience. These include, understanding Kemijen in terms of: i) the dynamics of the community as a settlement area, ii) land subsidence, iii) flooding and polder management; and iv) solid waste, wastewater, and water supply.