Beliefs and Values which Influence the Ability to Learn to Adapt

To understand the ability to learn to adapt, we start by describing the risk perception of the community members. Risk perception influences how people decide to take action for adaption to future flood risk.

Respondents in the case study areas stated that flooding is not a major concern for their daily life since they are more considerate of the economic benefits of living where they do. However, the severe flooding in 2007 and 2013 influenced how people perceive future risk and how they should face the next flood. This study finds that people perceived flooding as getting worse and they are now more concerned about the uncertainty of the future caused by the eviction program implemented by the government. However, people still have strong beliefs that their future life is in God’s hands, hence they learn to adapt only based on their previous experiences.

Figure 19.3 shows the percentage of respondents’ perception of the trend of floods during the time they stay in Muara Baru which in average is for 30 years. Based on structured interviews with 170 respondents, recent floods were perceived as worse compared to 30 years ago both for river flooding and coastal flooding.

In general, people recognized that there are three types of floods, namely coastal flooding, river flooding and a combination of both. The combination of coastal and river flooding should occur every 5 years, but people stated that since 2012, the pattern has been changing and become more uncertain. This means that big floods could happen at any time. There are several factors that respondents mentioned as a potential cause for this (Fig. 19.4), such as: (1) temperature, (2) rainfall, (3) sea level rise, (4) storm surge, (5) wind from the sea, (6) water from upstream, (7) God’s will, and (8) others.

The reason for flooding ‘because of God’s will’, is interesting to be analyzed in relation to ethnic background, even though only 4% of respondents gave this choice. As described in the literature review and method section, the respondents come from several ethnic backgrounds and the acknowledged ones are Bantenese and Bugisnese. Both of those ethnicities have a strong Moslem religious background. Respondents’ believe that “God will give the best for them, sooner or later and in ways that they might not predict’. They only need to do their best and surrender to

Perception of the trend in flooding (%) (Source

Fig. 19.3 Perception of the trend in flooding (%) (Source: Authors)

God. During FGD in RT 20 almost all participants raised the issue about the role of God in their life. They said that they are unable to avoid disasters if that is already God’s plan. Moreover, they highlight disasters can occur anywhere.

Even though they believe that a disaster is caused by God’s will, people try to do their best to prepare for future risk. Learning from previous experiences, they stated that flooding is becoming more uncertain and elevating the house is not only the best strategy to reduce the impact of flooding. However, interestingly, 60% of all respondents stated that they would renovate and elevate their house if they have sufficient budget for it. Forty percent of respondents mentioned that they would not directly reconstruct their house. Based on their experience, they are and will still be affected by floods even though they have elevated the floor of the house previously. Thus, they prefer to accept the situation and hope that in the future the disaster will be less.

Based on their experiences in responding to at least two severe floods, people stated that learning the strength of interaction, relationships and networking among community members is very useful to help them to survive during and after disasters (FGD-01; 02-PJR). Based on existing behaviors, they are not concerned about a new strategy to adapt to future risk but would rather focus on how to keep all those positive interactions sustained. This helps them to be more confident to face disaster.

We can survive here because people here are very solid to face disaster together and we help each other... in 2013 flood, my husband was away from home and all people help me to safe all my properties... if we are not solid like this, we might be not survive... (Ibu LND,

RT 20)

However, when we ask about future risk and perception of their ability to face future disasters, respondents stated that they have less confidence compared to previous experiences. The survey shows that only about 46% of respondents stated that they believe they can face future risk and around 54% of them were still not sure.

Perception of the causes of flooding (%) (Source

Fig. 19.4 Perception of the causes of flooding (%) (Source: Authors)

The semi-structured interviews show that respondents who are unsure about their ability to face the future are so because the current situation is different. For respondents in RT 19 and 20, they have more concern about where they are living due to the massive eviction program by the government of Jakarta. Eviction and resettlement in social housing has caused great changes to the neighborhood structure. Respondents who stay in social housing stated that they need to adapt to the new neighbors due to the random placement of resettlement.

Moreover, to adapt to future risk, this study finds that ethnic Bugisnese are more active in expanding their capacity by broadening and strengthening networking to other stakeholders. Respondents stated that due to uncertain conditions, they need more connection to government officers to obtain information about programs related to their neighborhood. Based on interviews with one informal leader in social housing, there were currently many new programs that impacted them significantly. Besides eviction and resettlement, they also have to get information about clean water provision and access for micro finance, particularly for people in the resettlement areas. Clean water provision is becoming the main problem for the communities in Muara Baru as they have to pay a high price for clean water. To conclude, learning to adapt to floods is mainly influenced by people’s beliefs that God will protect them and their risk perception is shaped by their values of the strength of networking, relationships and kinship. Moreover, having certain information will support them to take action in the face of future risk.

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