Thursday, March 31, 2011

Get ready for major disasters

A colleague from Banda Aceh asked me via Facebook whether the present disasters can be good or bad for the future of disaster risk reduction? He asked “What can I explain to the people of Aceh as a disaster mitigation advocate, as I used Japan as the perfect model for a tsunami-ready society?” What is the best answer to these questions?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Occidentalism and the Future of the Humanitarian Emergency Management

Jakarta Post 13 April 2010, but strangely not available online. the version appeared in is based on automatic scan which misses many spellings.. here is the original version:
This is a shorten version with 900 words from the original 1600 words.

Occidentalism and the Future of the Humanitarian Emergency Management

Jonatan Lassa*

Globally, there is a claimed statistic as mentioned by James Paul (Global Policy Forum, June 2000) that NGOs grew from 400 a decade ago to 25,000 at the end of 20th century. This number is re-quoted again in the paper “When NGOs beget NGOs: Practicing Responsible Proliferation” written by Jocelyn Kelly in the International Journal of Humanitarian Assistance a year ago. If the figure above is correct for 2000, the 2010 figure must have been higher than that of 2000, given the fact that there is apparently new faces not seen nor heard a decade ago but now everyone heard new names, such as Clinton Foundation, Eastern Congo Initiative by Ben Affleck etc.

In Indonesia, within the first decade of 21st Century, new humanitarian players emerged at the national level such as Indonesian Society for Disaster Management (MPBI), Dompet Dhuafa, including some faith based organizations working in the field of disaster emergency and management. The increase of number of humanitarian NGOs in the countries like Indonesia can be read as local response to the increase of insecurity and risks triggered by many big natural hazards and human driven natural hazards during the last decade from the Eastern to the Western part of Indonesia.

While most of the national humanitarian NGOs live on the grants from their international counterparts, there is a positive sign as a few NGOs grow with creative in-country fundraising strategy and therefore become more “independent” in many ways: money, paradigm, values, ideology, technical standards, their own perception and standard on basic rights (on clustered needs such as food, health, nutrition, water, shelters etc).

Since there is no legally binding humanitarian disaster response law (please not to be confused with the Law of War which is also known as International Humanitarian Law) for non state actors working in humanitarian clusters, civil humanitarian emergency is arranged by “rules of the game” that is a set of non legally binding rules and voluntary standards such as Humanitarian Charters and Sphere Standard (or Standard of Humanitarian Emergency Relief). In many cases, the luxury of independency gained by NGOs which have no links with the international mainstream players, may create gaps without no risks – given the context in Indonesia where there is no accreditation system developed to control quality of services to the people at risks.

The worst scenario is that the field of humanitarian response may be flooded with diversity of approach and may end up in “Hobbesian Anarchy” – no clear authority nor clear governing body nor rules and the worst can be seen – differences in standards on basic rights – for instance gender sensitive shelter facilities, that recently become a hot issue among humanitarian players which pro international standards which is already acceptable to the national authority but not adopted by some of the actors.

The coming of new players with their own “ideal types” and perspectives - distanced from the established standards may create unnecessary clash. The established practices on humanitarian emergency service and the compliance of INGOs, UNs and national NGOs to the standard such as Sphere Standard and Humanitarian Charters can easily be ignored and narrowly considered as “Western” standards. The embedded values in the Sphere and Humanitarian Charter such as humanitarian nature, neutrality, justice, non-discrimination, non-partiality, with strong intention to protect the marginal groups (the aged, children, girls/boys, men/women, disabled persons etc.) can be easily neglected. lease also see the Code of Conduct of the IFRC

In my observation, mainstream actors may (or may not) miscalculate what is so-called as “Occidentalism” critics which tend to suspect the embeddedness of “Western values” set behind such international standards. This is a global phenomenon and it is about negative construction of the West by its “enemies” and in the field of humanitarian emergency, the proponent of this view tend to suspect the United Nations and INGOs are propagating the dominant culture of the West. It is equally valid to argue against the danger of the embedded “Orientalism” that may (or may not) exist in the standards.

Check and balance in humanitarian emergency in all sectors is much more needed today than ever before as the sector is getting bigger in scales than ever before. However, the “check and balance” exercise is a voluntary exercise with noble purpose to improve the quality of services to the people affected by disaster risks. Nevertheless, it can create tension among actors – between those who do response and those who dedicated themselves to monitor the quality of the responses.

Creative enforcement of the standards through creative engagement is needed through several strategies. Should conflict arise because of the dynamics in the check and balance between actors, it is the government’s roles to mitigate the negative effect of the conflict. The media should be engaged in ways where they can communicate the standards set to fulfill peoples need and rights. The proneness of humanitarian emergency to media controversy which coupled with the Occidentalism can be exacerbated by weak emergency governance context due to poor leadership of the government as well as lack of emergency managers with adequate diplomatic skills especially when ones try to communicate the voluntary standards even though those standards may have been already indigenized to the national standard.

*Co-editor Journal of NTT Studies, Member of MPBI Jakarta. Writing up PhD dissertation with focus on Institutional Vulnerability and the Governance of Disaster Risks at the University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

Monday, January 25, 2010

Early warning systems and politics of fear

Early warning systems and politics of fear

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Opini - Climate-gate dan Anatomi Climate Change Skeptics

Tulisan ini merupakan versi lain dari tulisan Penulis di Kompas 17 Des 2009 - "Climategate" atau Pro-"Status Quo"?

Opini - Climate-gate dan Anatomi Climate Change Skeptics

Jonatan Lassa*

Berita tuduhan Climate-gate - hasil akses hackers atas email 160 megabytes dari Climate Research Unit (CRU) Universitas East Anglia di Inggris – tentang komunikasi persolan dua ahli langganan IPCC - perlahan namun pasti tersebar ke seluruh pelosok dunia. Disebut tuduhan Climate-gate karena kecurigaan yang diamplifikasi media – terutama media pro-status quo – bahwa terjadi manipulasi data penelitian untuk sekedar membenarkan klaim ilmiah tentang perubahan iklim akibat ulah manusia.
Surat 140 ilmuan dari berbagai latar belakang, termasuk beberapa ilmuan iklim dunia kepada Sekjen PBB Ban Ki Moon tertanggal 8 Desember 2009 menunjukan bahwa para ahli oposisi perubahan iklim mendapatkan angin segar. Tuduhan kepada IPCC adalah bahwa ilmu Perubahan Iklim merupakan penemuan negatif yang belum pasti benar.

Ditakuti tuduhan Climate-gate akan menurunkan legitimasi kebijakan penanganan perubahan iklim yang akan dibahas, terutama di Amerika Serikat dan Australia, di mana kesadaran publik atas perubahan iklim terbilang yang paling rendah di antara negara-negara industri. Semakin sulit membuat kebijakan iklim berbasis opini publik di kedua negara tersebut.

Anatomi Oposisi Ahli Perubahan Iklim

Pertanyaannya, bagaimana menghadapi ilmuan yang juga 100% yakin bahwa perubahan iklim yang terjadi saat ini bukanlah sebuah peristiwa antropogenic tetapi alamiah?
Anatomi kalangan oposisi yang skeptis perlu diurai. Sedikitnya terdapat tiga kelompok utama kaum skeptis. Pertama adalah pelaku utama industri bahan bakar fosil dunia yang berbasis di Amerika Serikat yang cenderung melakukan lobi politik partai pro status quo seperti Partai Republik. Dengan kekuatan keuangan mereka, persepsi publik dengan gampang dimanufaktur melalui media tentu dengan dukungan ”ahli piaraan.” Tentu ini teori konspirasi yang sering ditolak kelompok kedua.

Kelompok kedua adalah ilmuan independen yang tidak berafiliasi ataupun tidak didanai kelompok bisnis energi fosil raksasa maupun kelompok politik kanan. Kelompok ini dianggap sebagai pihak yang memiliki model tersendiri dalam memahami iklim. Ilum menjadi ilmu karena metodenya. Menghilangnya Salju Abadi di Kutup Utara yang berlangsung sangat cepat, tentunya menjadi bukti tersendiri yang dianggap cukup bagi sebagian orang di arena publik tapi tidak bagi ilmuan baik se-suku maupun beda suku keilmuan karena ragam model dan metode dalam menjelaskan fenomena.

Kelompok ketika bisa dikategorikan sebagai pro Bjorn Lomborg (penulis The Skeptical Environmentalists) adalah kelompok yang secara secara jujur mengakui terjadi perubahan iklim antropogenic tetapi berbeda secara radikal soal bagaimana menaganinya - khusus soal kebijakan versi Kyoto Protokol. Lomborg dengan dukungan beberapa penerima Nobel ekonomi menggagas Copenhagen Consensus tentang manfaat dan kerugian mekanisme kebijakan iklim Protokol Kyoto.

Tentu tanpa sikap skeptics pada derajat tertentu, manusia tidak mungkin maju dan ilmu tidak mungkin berkembang dan tiba pada “kemajuan” hari ini. Dalam ilmu bencana dalam 50 tahun terakhir, ketika jutaan manusia secara nyata menjadi korban, para ahli bencana masih terus berdebat apa itu bencana.

Climate-gate – Divergensi Bahasa

Bahasa dunia akademis cenderung tidak gampang dimengerti oleh publik bila konteks pemahaman berbahasa tidak dipegang. Hal ini harus dipahami para ahli maupun media dalam menterjemahkan dua dunia tersebut. Istilah engineering sering diterjemahkan sebagai rekayasa. Namun dalam ruang publik yang gampang dipolitisasi, rekayasa menjadi bermakna negatif. Hal yang sama berlaku pada tuduhan Climate-gate khususnya postingan email-email pribadi yang ditafsir secara out of context.

Yang menjadi sorotan adalah komunikasi email antara Prof. Phil Jones, kepala CRU dan Prof. Michael Mann, ahli palaeoclimatologist dari Pennsylvania State University. Contoh email yang paling disoroti adalah petikan email dari Prof. Jones kepada Prof. Mann yang berbunyi ”Saya baru saja menyelesaikan trik milik Mike di Nature dengan menambahkan suhu yang real pada tiap serial data untuk 20 tahun terakhir (yakni sejak 1981) dan sejak tahun 1961 punya Keith untuk menyembunyikan kecenderungan turunnya suhu)." Prof. Mann ke berbagai media menjelaskan bahwa istilah trik tersebut dimaksudkan sebagai sebuah tindakan cerdas. Sedangkan istilah ”menyembunyikan” dalam email tersebut berkaitan dengan keputusan untuk mengeluarkan data set tree ring yang menunjukan kecenderungan cooling dan tidak konsisten dengan data riil iklim lokal yang cenderung warming.

Yang jarang direfleksikan adalah bahwa dalam sains terdapat fenomena yang disebut ketidakpastian pengetahuan akibat mis-match berbagai versi model yang terus menerus disempurnakan dan berjalan seiring perkembangan teknologi informasi.
Pengetahuan tentang perubahan iklim sebagai sesuatu yang real merupakan hasil konsensus para ahli dunia IPCC dan bukan pekerjaan segelintir ilmuan yang terbuka kemungkinan khilaf. Legitimasi kebijakan publik berkaitan perubahan iklim merupakan sebuah kompromi positif dengan imperatif moral demi kemaslahatan umat manusia.

*.Kandidate PhD di Universitas Bonn, Alumnus University of East Anglia, UK. Co-editor Journal of NTT Studies.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Roles of Community Based Approach for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Indonesia

The Roles of Community Based Approach for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Indonesia, Conference Proceeding 5th National Conference Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction, Makassar, 5-8 Oct 2009. ISSN: 2086-1443. MPBI, Jakarta, 81
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Community Based Approach to Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Towards Sustainable Livelihood: Ten Years Experiences PMPB Kupang

Community Based Approach to Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Towards Sustainable Livelihood: Ten Years Experiences From PMPB Kupang
Yulius Nakmofa dan Jonatan Lassa

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Masyarakat Sadar Bencana

Masyarakat Sadar Bencana

Opini Kompas, Jumat, 2 Oktober 2009 | 04:55 WIB

Jonatan Lassa

Riset sejarah Gregory Clancey dalam buku Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity, 1868-1930 terbitan University of California Press 2006 merefleksikan Jepang sebagai bangsa gempa.

Istilah ”Jepang sebagai bangsa gempa” pertama kali muncul bukan karena gempa yang melahirkan petaka. Sebaliknya, meningkatnya kesadaran tentang gempa di kalangan akademisi dan birokrat Jepang, berujung pada reputasi ”Jepang bangsa gempa”, terjadi akibat publikasi John Milne akhir 1886 berjudul Catalogue of 8331 Earthquakes hasil uji coba seismometernya sendiri.