GNDR Members meet at Regional Workshop in Indonesia!

Lava Tour by Jeep Image: Lucy Pearson

GNDR members from South East Asia, East Asia and Pacific came together to attend a regional workshop to get to know each other, build partnerships, experience the context of intensive disasters and get oriented with the National Advocacy Toolkit.

A selection of interested members who shared their intent through submitting a prescribed application form, was invited to attend a regional workshop recently completed in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Members participated in this workshop were coming from different countries from the South East Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam) East Asia (Japan, China) and the Pacific (Fiji, Tonga and Solomon Island). YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU), a long time valued partner of GNDR, hosted this workshop during December 04-06 at the Phoenix Hotel, Yogyakarta.

GNDR secretariat facilitated the organisation of this workshop mainly to fulfil three objectives i) to expose the members with the severity of a relatively less common intensive disaster (volcanic eruption in this case) and learn about the enabling environment for DRR in Indonesia ii) to strengthen collaboration and build partnerships, and iii) to orient them with a national advocacy toolkit that GNDR compiled for assisting its members in campaigning initiatives.

On the first day, participants were taken to areas that were severely affected by the Mount Merapi eruption that started on November 5, 2010. The physically demanding lava tour, organised with old Jeep on a very bumpy road, helped the participants to internalize how cruel the mother nature could become, when she might get angry. But, it was also revealing the fact that disaster may also bring about new opportunities showing the range of economic activities (e.g. sand and rock mining) and livelihood option (e.g. tourism) the last eruption created and still be paying off.

The afternoon, with a visit to village Gempol (where GNDR has its Frontline program implemented by YEU) showed a case how differentiated a response to disaster could be. It awed the participants with the fact that how effective a resilience building effort can become if taken up holistically ensuring participation of the affected community. Village Gempol was a show-case of the Indonesian DRR theme of ‘living in harmony with disaster’. Assessing the low-attractiveness of the relocation offer, the members of the village decided to stay back and created a full range of livelihood options as a part of building resilience. Besides chipping stones into smaller pieces and selling those at a profit to construction markets, they also turned their whole village to a touristic destination to promote the idea of ‘disaster tourism’. Though the marketing efforts are still a bit fragmented, the village with the help of local CSOs (including YEU) is trying to link up with national tourism authority and disaster management authority to ensure an influx of interested tourists or disaster professional who want to learn about the impact of volcanic eruption and resilience.

The second day was started facilitating the participants with reflecting on the exposure visit and relating those to their own context. A wide range of issues including disaster impact, resilience, relocation challenge, alignment of public policies were discussed. Many members said they were keen to return to their countries and apply the learning from Indonesia in their own work. Others talked of sharing stories from their own projects with YEU to help them continue their impact in Gempol village. After a brief session on secretariat update, the participants through sharing the details of their organisations with fellow members identified shared priorities and agreed on some joint actions going forward. This included working together on campaigns for upcoming events; and sharing best practice to help members design their projects. The workshop ended with an orientation to GNDR compiled national advocacy toolkit and some practice of designing joint advocacy initiatives.

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