Community Flood Resilience Along Three River Basins of Bengawan Solo, Citarum and Ciliwung


Since 2013, a flood resilience project has been implemented in Indonesia along three river basins: Bengawan Solo, Ciliwung and Citarum. It is a part of the Zurich-IFRC Flood Resilience Alliance, a five year commitment to enhance community flood resilience and risk reduction in some of the most vulnerable countries. The partnership sits within the wider Zurich Global Flood Resilience Alliance, a cross sector collaboration which brings a diversity of skills and expertise to enhance community flood resilience solutions. In Indonesia the project is implemented by Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI) in partnership with International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Zurich Insurance Indonesia (ZII). The project will end in March 2018.

The project has three main objectives:

  1. Increase flood resilience in communities such that their knowledge and coping mechanisms are increased.
  2. Enhance effectiveness of disaster risk reduction solutions.
  3. Influence policy-makers and donors on disaster risk reduction policies.

The project is about increasing community resilience to floods through a holistic intervention using a resilience framework based on the 5 types of capital (human, financial, natural, physical & social). Community-specific flood risk reduction activities are implemented in parallel with other initiatives to strengthen community preparedness to potential floods. The project is targeting a few vulnerable communities initially to test new ideas and innovative solutions to reduce risk of floods and then will scale up to larger areas if such solutions and tools are found to be effective and sustainable.

The project has three facets which aim to address community flood resilience in a holistic way.

The first facet is preparing communities and building their capacity to respond to potential floods. This is achieved through developing a team of trained volunteers, setting up a command post, installing an appropriate early warning system, developing a community level contingency plan and standard operating procedures, running simulation exercises and developing village level risk maps. vulnerability, capacity and risk assessments (VCA) of the communities are analysed and awareness is raised about existing hazards and potential disasters, thus increasing the community’s capacity to secure people and take necessary preventive or protective measures.

The second approach of the project is to develop community level interventions/projects to reduce the exposure to flood risk and mitigate likely impact of the disaster in future.

Based on results and analysis of various community assessments and exercises (baseline survey, VCA & risk mapping), various micro-projects are developed together with the community. These mitigation activities can be both structural and non-structural interventions. While the project cannot aim at big structural interventions, often a small structural improvement can have a profound impact on reducing flood risk. Building evacuation places, installing water storage and supply, constructing flood gates, etc. are examples of structural activities that communities might implement as a result of the project.

In addition, if a larger infrastructural initiative is prioritised by the community, the PMI leaders will approach the relevant government agencies and advocate for that activity.

In order to develop innovative and effective tools to flood risk reduction, the project aims to extend partnerships with local academia and research institutes. An agreement had been signed with the Institute Technology of Bandung (ITB) to develop and install the Flood Early Warning Early Action System (FEWEAS) for the Bengawan Solo and Citarum watershed area.

Similarly, a study on household waste management in communities along the Ciliwung river had been completed by our partner – South Pole International. Furthermore, an agreement had been signed with the Agriculture University of Bogor (IPB) regarding community-based Riparian rehabilitation and protection in the Citarum River Area. IPB had done the research in the Citarum area to examine several aspects concerning biodiversity (vegetation) of riparian ecosystems, soil type and characteristics, runoff, erosion and sedimentation rates, the rate of river water flow, rainfall rate, map of site location, including runoff and erosion modelling development and rehabilitation design and guidance. The output of this research is a recommended project implementation plan proposed to government.

The third facet is the advocacy to local/national actors and government agencies about the need for flood risk reduction initiatives at all levels and the need to share solutions and lessons learned to the benefit people across the country.


As the project follows a standard procedure of community-based programming, a considerable time has been spent in preparations and the planning process. As a result, some basic but essential activities such as identifying vulnerable communities, recruiting community volunteers, conducting baseline survey, vulnerability & capacity assessment, risk mapping, report analysis, community consultation, developing mitigation plans, etc. have taken some time. In terms of activities accomplished to date, all 21 communities have implemented the project from Q3 of 2014 to Q4 of 2017. Community volunteers (SIBAT) were recruited and trained in all 21 communities. The baseline survey has been completed in 21 communities. The vulnerability & capacity assessment (VCA) was conducted in 21 communities and risk mapping completed in all 21 communities. Almost all surveys and assessments have indicated that floods and landslides are the main hazards in targeted communities, and environmental degradation, unplanned settlement, garbage disposal, deforestation, river sedimentation, etc. are contributing to the frequency and severity of such events. Based on these surveys and analysis, communities are developing flood risk reduction/mitigation plans. Before and during project implementation, local government and related stakeholders were coordinated and involved. The government also supported some activities, such as providing land for evacuation buildings, providing seeds for tree planting, etc. After the project finishes, the government will hand over the project and continue the project where it can be done.
Women, children, youth, and the elderly were included in project implementation, by involving them as SIBAT members or in some socialization/training/simulation activities. PMI community programs are always designed in an inclusive way hence all marginalised groups and vulnerable sections of a society are adequately represented.
PMI follows a systematic process of project planning based on various community level assessments (baseline survey, vulnerability & capacity assessment and risk mapping, community consultation and focus group discussion, etc.) that ensures community projects are based on local needs, priorities and contexts. On top of that, PMI actively carries out real-time monitoring and evaluation of ongoing activities and projects are adjusted/modified anytime in case of need to produce better outcome or impact in communities.


The project involved the community in implementing activities. Recruiting community volunteers (SIBAT) is one of the keys to sustaining the project after it is finished. SIBAT will be the key persons in the community to coordinate and influence people to be concerned and aware of flood disaster risk and impacts, and how to reduce those impacts, and coordinate with related/key institutions. Local government, especially village government, also gave the commitment to continue involving SIBAT in disaster management activities in the village or neighbour village, and made SIBAT members as part of village officers by making village decree. Other organizations, such as District Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) also involve SIBAT in their activities. After project implementation in the field was finished in December 2017, there were some flood events in the villages, and SIBAT and village government collaborated to help people respond to the flood in better ways than before. The CBDRM approach has been really effective in reducing and managing risk in communities hence it is likely to be continued in other areas as well in future. Even though the project may not be continuing physically, its best practices, values and legacy will surely continue in days to come. The concept of the community action team (SIBAT) for example has already been so effective and appreciated by the community and stakeholders, and it is likely to be replicated in several other communities beyond the current program and provinces by the local government. Types of Mitigation such as Vertiver in Solo and Arenga piñata (Palm Sugar) in Wonogiri have been linked with livelihoods and will be contributed as a part of fundraising efforts of DRR financing. The government of Solo District, Wonogiri District, South Jakarta, Bandung, Bogor, and Bojonegoro will take responsibility for sustaining the existing programme and also for replication in the remaining villages. Pangadegan village become the model of a climate village because of their effort to change from a slum village into clean, green and healthy village. The SIBAT become the best model of motivator and facilitator for communities and also as key partners and facilitator for village development.
After having baseline survey and endline survey using the Flood Resilient Measurement Tool (FRMT), there are some indications that the project has had impacts in the community. 1. Communities have gotten stronger - The 5 key pillars of resilience are sound enough. The five key capitals that are considered essential to strengthening community resilience have improved significantly and reached a good level in all communities. These 5 capitals are considered like pillars of the community that help the community to endure and cope with a disaster. However, if a pillar is weak then the community remains vulnerable. It is like a simple analogy that if a house is made of several pillars, all pillars must be equally strong enough to hold and sustain the building. Breaking of any pillar or any deficiency in any of the pillars will make the entire building weak and vulnerable. Similarly, all essential elements of the community should be strong enough to sustain and cope with disaster. There is good news that communities now have attained a good level of capital after the project implemented various risk reduction and capacity building initiatives. This is evident when comparing baseline conditions of these capitals with the endline status. 2. Communities are better prepared. Based on the endline data, it can be fairly said that communities are now better prepared to handle flood disasters in the future. Compared to the baseline data, all the communities have an improved resilience score. Socialization and training on flood disasters and health, connecting communities with related/key stakeholders such as government, BPBD, social agency, etc., were some of project activities that had an impact on the community. 3. Communities’ coping capacities enhanced. The coping capacities of communities have increased significantly. The setup of the SIBAT team, construction of a command post (POSKO), equipping the posko with basic disaster response tools, connecting communities with radio network and early warning system, various community socialization and advocacy events, etc. have significantly enhanced the community’s preparedness and coping capacity for disasters. This was also evident in earlier flood disasters in some communities, The SIBAT teams were very active in evacuating people and providing hot meals 3 times a day for about a week. The SIBAT team set up a public kitchen, cooked food and delivered to the displaced people until community members could go back to their homes. There is therefore adequate evidence of capacity building initiatives undertaken by the project in communities that corroborate with the positive result of the end line survey. If we take the endline survey result of any indication of change then there has been a tremendous positive impact and improvement in all communities. The overall impact of the CFR project is highly positive. There has been several interventions and capacity building measures in all communities that have obviously contributed to such positive changes. The CFR project may not own all the changes, and some other factors as well could have complemented some of the growth but the driver behind all changes in targeted communities was obviously the CFR project.


Since the program has a high level of community ownership, local government participation and endorsement, and is based on the identified needs in communities, the likelihood of the project sustainability is high. If not physically, at least some of its benefits are surely going to be sustained and best practices continued in future.
Issues related to CBDRM are certainly addressed in the country’s DRM law but it may not be adequate at the moment. That is why PMI has been activity involved in the revision of the DM law to ensure that community DRM/DRR issues are properly addressed in the national legislations. Certainly PMI has been involved in discussion and drafting of the revised DM law, and its key suggestions are included in the draft of the DM law revision.
PMI district chapters are the ones implementing and coordinating community activities at the local level. Of course PMI volunteers (KSR, CBAT, SATGANA) support coordination and implementation of activities. The project has created a community level volunteer institution namely CBAT ( a team of 30 people in a community) to support the project implementation in communities. CBAT are also linked to the local village office in some cases and the is local government actively involved in selection of the CBAT team members. Local governments have provided in-kind and facilitation support to the project where needed and appropriate. The CBDRM project has been supported by various national and international donors. Various technical and management trainings are provided to community action team members, volunteers and village officials as well. Some physical infrastructure and equipment/tools are also provided to the communities in order to enhance their disaster response and coping capacity.
Though the funding at the moment is not adequately available to scale up the project, the CBDRM approach has been taken positively by the donor community. As the approach is good and has already been tested through effective implementation, it is hoped that some donors will come forward with long-term funding.
The CBDRM project has indeed been a game changer. It has helped community people to have a right perspective and understanding of the local risk and how that is addressed. Before the project, risk perception of the people was different and they were more dependent on external actors on issues of risk reduction but the CBDRM project has taught and encouraged them to participate in risk mitigation and to solve their own problems themselves. And people now know that even a small local initiative can have profound positive impact on the environment and community. Communities have so much traditional knowledge and skills that can be utilised in an innovative and cost-effective way to solve many of their problems.