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Climate change, floods and homes: understanding location preferences in Indonesia

Cities face mounting challenges from climate change. In Indonesia rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, higher sea levels, and more frequent and severe extreme events such as droughts and floods threaten settlements, urban infrastructure, services and management systems. This working paper focuses on the Bengawan Solo River Side Buffer of Bojonegoro Regency, East Java, an area that has high frequency floods where the Bojonegoro Regency have built a levee for flood protection. However, about 1,300 families from 1,100 households have chosen to locate their homes outside the protected area, and this continues to happen from generation to generation. This paper seeks to investigate the typology of social structures to examine why these populations are choosing to remain in at-risk areas.

The structural equation model shows that for all of the communities (low, medium and high vulnerability) their greatest fear is not only flooding but consequential land losses due to torrential water when the upstream dam is opened. The communities’ priority is managing their inherited lands sustainably rather than their homes. The emotional needs and community groups are significant sub-variables for each of the three categories of vulnerable community in the research area.

The social network analysis shows that the low-vulnerability communities can better mobilise their local and extra-local resources to live in flood-prone areas than residents in high- and medium vulnerability communities. They have stronger networks of interpersonal relationships that is stimulated by some prominent residents, and also face the least flood risk. In line with Putnam (2000) and Leenders (2002), the findings of this study suggest that the choice of residents to remain in flood-prone areas is determined by the strength of their social network, and that is influenced by prominent residents who are influenced by overall community resilience to flood disaster.

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The Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) is an eight-year, multi-country initiative working with cities across the world to increase resilience to climate change. IIED is a regional partner within ACCCRN.

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