Practice/Behaviors and Social Structures which Influence Recovery Processes

The recovery process in this research is mainly observed through the renovation of houses and restarting economic activities after flood events. In this case, we find that the ownership status of housing as a non-cultural aspect leads to a decision to renovate the house. In this recovery process, there are two stages that we analyze to understand community resilience. First, people’s decisions to renovate their houses depends on the status of their housing, whether they own or rent it. Second, since it requires budgeting, they have to find financial support and for this purpose, the quality of networking, kinship and relationships strongly influences their ability to recover following a disaster.

Severe flooding in 2007 caused major damage to houses in RT 20 due to the high velocity of the water (HH-04, 05-PJR; FGD-02-PJR). Meanwhile, the flood in 2013 caused major damage because of the long period of inundation. Apart from damage to houses, both floods also impacted the properties of informal traders such as street vendors’ wagons.

Our survey shows that more than 70% of respondents received major damage to their houses. Around 30% stated that their house received no damage but only the furniture. Moreover, only 35% of those surveyed who had a severely damaged house were able to renovate their house and around 65% stated that they only made small efforts to return the house back to its normal function. They were more concerned about the function of the house rather than its quality. For instance, repairing doors and walls are the first priorities when renovating a house. Those surveyed said they preferred to choose used-material with a low price or even free material from the neighborhood. The second option is to paint the wall, followed by elevating the floor including installing small embankments in front of the house. However, in our case study, renovating a house is perceived as a non-robust strategy in the face of future flood risk. Around 65% of those who renovated their house stated that since they live in a flood prone area and floods are getting worse, it was still likely they will be impacted the same as previous experiences. Hence, they prefer to carry out the most important options when renovating the house. In addition, for those who rent a house, the decision is most likely to depend on the owners since renovation is the responsibility of the owners. As a renter, they can decide whether to stay in that house or find another house. However, since the relationship between the owners and the renters is mostly based on a close network and kinship, they can often negotiate the renovation. In this case, the renters may renovate the house but the owners are obliged to give a month’s free rent.

Besides the level of damage, the recovery process also depends on the availability of money. Since most respondents had no sustained monthly income or savings, they stated that there were several financial sources they could use instead. First, they could borrow money from relatives, families and neighbors. Interviews with respondents in RT 19 show that they preferred to utilize networking, likely related to ethnic background. One respondent stated that as a Javanese, she feels more comfortable to ask her Javanese relative to lend her money (HH-03-PJR). In contrast, FGD in RT 20 showed that ethnic background does not determine how people get access to money because all community members are closer to each other. Second, people can borrow money from a regular social gathering or arisan, which exists as a common system especially among women. Money is collected every week or month and someone from the group is chosen to receive the money. In an urgent situation a member of the arisan can have priority to get the money. People also strategically borrowing money after a disaster to fulfill the basic daily needs of families and for starting new economic activities. Third, people can borrow money from moneylenders (rentenir) who give credit without formal administrative requirements and are flexible with the payment mechanism. Unfortunately, the interest rate is very high. The only reason people approach moneylenders is because they have no access to a formal financial institution themselves and usually only need a small amount of money. Borrowing money is becoming a more common practice in the community due to the instability of incomes and the cultural aversion towards saving money.

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