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Featured Member: Interview with Hepi Rahmawati - YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU)

Hepi Rahmawati at GNDR's 2018 Global Summit Geoff Crawford

"Our objective is to bring policies at grassroots level, we want comunities to directly channel their views with national policy makers" said Hepi Rahmawati, Programmes Manager at YAKKUM emergency Unit (YEU) an indonesian NGO working in disaster relief and community resilience. 

What does your organisation do?

Established in 2001, YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU) is dedicated to emergency response and disaster risk reduction initiatives. YEU promotes inclusive emergency response and community resilience through DRR and climate change adaptation. YEU has two main areas of expertise:

• Emergency and conflict response
• DRR and climate change adaptation through community resilience and economic empowerment of the people
Since 2001 we have responded to more than 85 emergencies in Indonesia, collaborated with foreign DRR networks in neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, the Philippines and Nepal, and supported further countries like Palestine where we provided nurses and doctors in Gaza.

Our mission is to facilitate action planning and discussion with national and international stakeholders to prove the link between DRR, sustainable development and economic betterment. For instance, we work with 50 groups of women in Indonesia on the area of “Women empowerment in DRR”. One of our initiatives further progresses sustainable farming in cyclone prone areas (Gunungkidul), we have proposed an adaptation activity in the community of Kedungpoh Village that consisted in utilizing the land under hard trees by planting ginger, turmeric, galangal, etc, so it will bring additional income within a short term period and they don’t have to wait until they can sell any of those hard trees as a mean of subsistence. Publication of this practice can be accessed here (page 10).

How would you describe its role as part of civil-society? 

Our objective is to bring policies to the grassroots level, enabling communities to directly channel their views to the national and international policy makers.
During our quarterly “local to local dialogue”, we encourage exchanges between local communities and local government representatives. During these events, local community representatives meet with local government representatives to express their concerns and report on the governmental strategies implemented.

In addition, YAKKUM organises a yearly national reflective meeting on DRM that gathers 100 community leaders and the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNBP). Grassroots leaders from all over the country meet with national government representatives to provide input into the national DRR policies but most importantly, bring forward the challenges of the communities. It also enables the Indonesian government to measure the impact of their policies on the ground.

What is your role, what does it entail?

I am the Programme Manager at YEU, which makes me in charge of all programme operations, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. I see myself as an interface that links the reality on the ground with national policies and the overall global discourse on Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRR). I have to say that often sustainable development or international frameworks such as SFDRR or the SDGs are notions that communities are not aware of, but in practice are contributing in their implementation, we try to expand the knowledge of these frameworks as they have become a national priority and link them with existing community based initiatives.

When did your organisation join GNDR?

We joined the network in 2009, when we were invited by GNDR Secretariat to participate in Views from the Frontline/ Frontline.

Why did your organisation join GNDR?

We did not know GNDR at the time, YEU is an organisation that continuously seeks to learn more on DRR and DRM. Since then it has been beneficial for our organisation to learn more but also strengthen our profile towards our government agency at the national DRR level in Indonesia.

Could you share benefits for YAKKUM emergency unit (YEU) of being a GNDR member.

Implementing VFL 2009 increased our capacity in DRR monitoring at local level. It also enabled us to connect with other CSOs and expand our collaboration capacities

Via GNDR, we are being updated and engaged with the global discourse and regional forums, GNDR always gave support to YEU to participate to these valuable events

Since the very beginning when we have agreed to work with VFL 2009 it was very clear that it was a complementary report to national DRR strategies, it gathered a lot of attention as the language used in the report was positive and encouraged collaboration with authorities, it sealed our positive relationship with the Indonesian government.

Name one area of improvement for GNDR

To strengthen the network, GNDR Secretariat should support other members to take part in regional meetings (not exclusive to national focal point). From the last Frontline 2015 there should have been more resources for local actions implementation. One of GNDR strength is to start from the local level to scale up their advocacy efforts to the international level. So my advice is to mobilise more local resources as we need more resources for local initiatives.

What do you think are your biggest achievements as an organisation?

We focus on empowering the most vulnerable and the affected communities. Our biggest achievement is witnessing an increase in their capacity and that they become able to help themselves or help other communities - it is our greatest satisfaction!

For instance, we train the Disaster task force/Disaster management committee on disaster prevention, response and resilience with volunteers from the affected community, who then become the DRR focal points in other communities. Community based organisation in Aceh responds to humanitarian crisis supported the authorities in responding to the Rohynga refugee crisis. And now are actors of change, leading “peer to peer learning” in other communities.

 Has your organisation got any awards?

YEU received the Gender-just climate solutions award (2002) by the United Nations stakeholder group of the UN framework convention on Climate change (UNFCC) “Women gender constituency”.

What should GNDR do to sustain or increase members’ engagement or participation?

The added value of being a GNDR member is that there is a strong capacity building component within GNDR that enables any member to develop partnerships, get learning opportunities, advocate at international level on behalf of local communities. This network really feels like a “family” there is no competition or insecurity amongst the members. It is a very positive atmosphere that even enabled me to grow professionally and personally.

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