Children's experiences of flooding in Surakarta, Indonesia : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Emergency Management at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
This thesis presents a rich contextual discussion of the social effects of flooding on children who live near the Bengawan Solo River in Central Java, Indonesia. Research was conducted with thirty-two children between the ages of nine and thirteen who were exposed a moderate flood event in December 2007 in the municipality of Surakarta. This event and the Indo-Javanese culture provide the context in which the children’s perspectives and personal experiences are understood.
Research revealed that in disaster situations where children are involved the cultural and social context and the geographic and circumstantial context matter. It was found that the cultural practice of gotong royong, the local government structure, and religious beliefs and practices increased their resilience, the interruption of education was a great concern, and the social condition of poverty increased children’s vulnerability and exacerbated the impacts of the flood. The physical geography of the flood event interacted with the geography of daily life, altering the physical landscape of the community and forcing the children to either adapt or suspend regular activities. The impacts of the flood during and after the event were affected by the circumstantial context of the event: the short duration and moderate intensity of the flood, the lack of serious injuries or deaths, the significant loss of possessions and income and the post-disaster environment which was characterised by adequate living conditions and extensive social support that contributed to children’s resilience.
While these aspects are relevant for both children and adults in disasters, children are social actors who have distinct and important capabilities that the disaster research field need to take into account. Children were identified as social actors in this study by their active participation in their peer culture and adult society, and the demonstration of their capabilities through the application of their knowledge of flooding. The recovery process was sped up by child participants’ contributions, and findings point towards research on the long-term resilience of the community being enhanced by involving children in disaster risk reduction activities.