Disaster and Dispossession in Southeast Asia and Beyond
Thu 09:00-10:30 Room 3.02
- Darmanto Simaepa Czech Academy of Science
- Elizabeth Maly International Research Institute of Disaster Risk Science, Tohoku University
- Irina Rafliana German Development Institute, BRIN Indonesia
- Elizabeth Maly International Research Institute of Disaster Risk Science, Tohoku University
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Listen to communities: disaster risk reduction encoded in local knowledge
Daniela Paredes Grijalva Austrian Academy of Sciences
The (im)mobilities of people, plants, and animals in the larger Palu-Koro fault area have been influenced by colonial expansion, local rulers, forced labor, natural hazards and more recently agro-industry and mining. In 2018 while the recently revived Kaili rituals honoured the lords of the land and of the sea on Palu Bay, friction in plate tectonics caused an earthquake, a tsunami, and rare soil liquefaction in Central Sulawesi. Settlements around the Palu Bay were the worst affected. Evacuees and internally displaced persons are just two categories of a diverse array of people and their possibilities to move or stay in a context marked by inequalities and dispossession –including the way local epistemologies are framed and viewed. In fact, local histories, cultural traditions, naming practices, and myths are brimming with knowledge—knowledge some frame as disaster mitigation. This knowledge is relevant for disaster risk reduction and ought to be taken seriously. This year’s GPDRR calls for stakeholder engagement. To do this we could start by listening to communities. This presentation will share thoughts on an ongoing doctoral research project and the collaborations across disciplines to bring messages like these to more audiences.
Ruptured lives and places: displacements after the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Elizabeth Maly International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohuku University
Julia Gerster International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohuku University
In 2011, failures at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami led to nuclear meltdowns and dispersal of radioactive materials into the environment. With limited information, chaotic evacuation processes scattered former residents all across Japan. Based on levels of contamination, evacuation orders were issued for different zones, which divided communities into “safe” and “unsafe” places. Even more than 11 years after the accident, revision of these zones continues, with the decrease in radiation levels leading to the gradual reopening of residential areas. Yet, more than 35,000 residents are still registered as official evacuees, many of them forbidden from returning to live in the most contaminated “Difficult to Return” zone. The nuclear accident continues to affect the lives of thousands of people. Especially elderly residents, many of whom have never lived outside of their hometown, want to return to their former homes, despite the manifold challenges such as the lack of medical support and infrastructure. Many young families, on the other hand, fight for their right to maintain their status as “evacuees” as many are concerned about possible health consequences of the disaster and the living environments for their children. Other evacuees remain in limbo, as they can neither move back to their homes nor demolish their property as long as it remains in the “Difficult to Return Zone.” Based on field research in the affected municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture and interviews with evacuees and returnees as well as government officials, in this paper, the authors explore the manifold disruptions and dispossessions caused by the nuclear disaster and show how place based recovery measures usually applied for earthquake or tsunami damage fail to address important aspects of everyday life, such as regaining a comfortable living environment, community and family ties as well as functioning neighbourhoods and community infrastructure. Finally, the authors emphasize the need for people-cantered recovery that requires affected people to be able to make their own informed decisions with more flexible options to support individual needs in recovery.
The bad, the ugly and the worst disasters: tsunami, relocation, and the state forest in Mentawai Archipelago
Darmanto Simaepa Czech Academy of Science
Irina Rafliana German Development Institute
Rijel Samaloisa Yogyakarta
Our article examines a particular trajectory of social realm which shaped the post-disaster management of the 2010 Mentawai tsunami, and how it further shapes understanding of future risks. The discussion aims to also contemplate on how Mentawaians communities will live with future tsunami threats. Our article is guided by a pivot question of why after a decade, the survivors of the tsunami disaster failed to feel at home in their new place. We proceed by questioning the new and severe social insecurity and vulnerability which later emerged and resulting a ‘relocation disaster’. This leads to the question on how, by carrying such vulnerabilities, would the communities living in the coasts prepare themselves against the next possible Mentawai Megathrust, and which possible scenarios will come along. Drawing from ethnographic research and political discourse analysis and deploying the concept of marginality, we examine our research through the lens of systemic problem of living with disasters, and how space, either old or new settlements are unmade. This includes the Mentawaian social history, the miss-match between scientific knowledge, government actions, and local response over the 2010 disaster. We argue that a long history of local mistrust over external agencies contribute the mistranslation and misjudge the disaster-related-information and produce the bad situatedness for the Mentawaians. The second part describes a decade long unfinished government resettlement project that has been painfully experienced as ‘the real tsunami’ by the survivors. The disastrous post-tsunami intervention, we argue, stems from the combination of a top down approach, the historic marginalization of indigenous Mentawaians, and the designation of the entire Mentawian ancestral land as State Forest. We demonstrate how the three factors have generated the ugly horizontal and vertical conflicts and failed survivors to take agencies in the rebuilding their lives. The third part is to contemplate what the on-going marginalization of Mentawaians and the status of State Forest might have impact the preparedness of Mentawaians in encountering the Mentawai Megathrust. We argue that should the latter two central problems not addressed, we might be forced to accept the unimaginable worst case scenario of future Mentawai disaster.
The systematic denial of “ownership” in recovery planning: unpacking the illusive construction of “permanent recovery housing” for displaced indigenous communities in Taiwan
Shu-Mei Huang National Taiwan University
The result of the recovery planning carried out following the 2009 Morakot Typhoon and others in the past decade was initially seen as a success and yet met with growing protests in recent years, even stained by an incident in which an Indigenous elderly committed a self-immolation in 2020. In this article the researcher attends to the denial of ownership in recovery planning, which could bring about more harms than healing and reinforce the already existing unnatural disasters that Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan have been suffering from. The post-disaster recovery planning carried out from 2009-2014 was characterized by the rapid construction and supply of “permanent recovery housing” for those displaced. The research reveals how the notion of permanency is itself a misleading concept in the context of Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan having been deprived of their access to ancestral land; the implementation if the recovery housing program largely differs from the owner-driven reconstruction that has gained more support in international practices. In contrast, the result is disappointingly denying the Indigenous communities’ ownership, which reinforces rather than redresses their marginalized situation in planning politics and disaster justice.
The many failing practices of post-disaster interventions around the globe have revealed systemic problems in disaster management and recovery processes. Post-disaster interventions (relocations, resettlement) are often, if not always, associated with dispossessions and displacement. Dispossession experienced by survivors of disasters takes different forms, often rooted in and conflated with long histories of pre-existing marginalization and subordination. It is also not uncommonly generated by market-driven post-disaster interventions and shaped by disaster capitalism. A promising debate about the epistemological growth of disasters and dispossessions is shedding light on a two-sided reality. On one hand, it shows how socially critical and interdisciplinary perspectives taking on the social dimensions of disasters are finding their space in the realm of research on disasters and processes of dispossession. On the other hand, it also reveals how issues of dispossessions, entailed with marginalization, post-colonialism, capitalism/neoliberalism, and power asymmetries are embedded and rising in the many different phases of disaster management. All of which comes with grave consequences, also relating to institutional, structural, and political problems, to say the least. In the end, disasters and dispossession might be the very antithesis of sustainable development.
This panel aims at bringing together two notions: the emergence of contemporary research on dispossessions; and the critical question of what would be needed to mainstream such issues in practice. The Southeast Asia region is fertile ground for these related but often separate notions. As part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, communities in Southeast Asia have simultaneously experienced disasters after both natural and man-made hazards, compounded by displacement, eviction, and violence. The panel invites current researchers of disasters and dispossessions, towards advocating the urgency of addressing the issues of dispossessions, and at the same time to mainstream grounded empirical findings from the varied disaster risk conventions. It is critical that the way disaster risk management is traditionally articulated shifts, in a reflection of issues of dispossessions related to disasters and climate change. This panel resume would therefore be particularly relevant in relation to the recent Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, Bali 2022, the upcoming G20 meeting in 2022 as part of the global discourse on sustainable development, as well as a reflection on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.