Culture and Collectivity in Times of Floods: Community Experiences and Resilience Building to Flood Disasters in the Greater Surakarta Area, Indonesia

Rizki Fillaili (The Australian National University)


Floods have become the highest disaster occurrence at the global level. The World Disaster Report (2015), noted that from 2005-2014, there were 631,199 disasters in the world, of which 46% are floods, mostly happened in Asia. Indonesia, particularly, the Greater Surakarta area of Central Java Province, is no exception. Having the longest river in Java, Bengawan Solo River, the areas now are flooded almost every year since 2007. Though floods have been a common occurrence, yet knowledge about how people, particularly in different communities’ contexts, cope with repeated floods, is still widely unknown. So far, studies on floods resilience in the Greater Surakarta area, are only a few and considered limited in focus.  To enrich the understanding of how contexts shaped communities resilience to floods, and how community’s vulnerability collide with natural hazards,  this paper aims to discuss how culture and collectivity, including the functioning of social cohesion features in communities coping strategies and resilience building. The paper is based on a Ph.D. research that was conducted in selected rural and urban communities in the Greater Surakarta Area, seriously affected by floods.

The research employed a mixed methods approach, with rural-urban comparison as the main features.  I conducted in-depth interviews complemented by household’s survey with additional information from observation, secondary statistical data and relevant documents.

This paper will shed lights of how do different communities contexts, including flood risk perception, shaped and formed community resilience to floods. This paper will also reveal how structural factors when combine with individual factors, will influence people’s behaviour in the context of disaster. Furthermore, this paper will also have clear significances for policy options for the disaster risk reduction program.

Keywords: floods, community context, social cohesion, resilience, disaster risk reduction