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Cultural sensitive approach in water management for a volcanic river basin of Yogyakarta Metropolitan Area

Author(s): Vicky Ariyanti

Although there is substantial literature on the implementation of integrated water resources management and multilevel governance of water, less attention is given on how and why cultural values contribute to the integration level of its implementation. Thus, this case study examines cultural ecological knowledge impacts on current water management practices in Opak sub-basin, Yogyakarta Special Region, Indonesia, which is threatened by the volcanic activities of Mt. Merapi in its upstream. Therefore, it uses the research question of “ How and why does the cultural-ecological knowledge impacting the water resources management in a volcanic river basin?” We used a qualitative approach to the case study of Opak Sub-basin to investigate a comprehensive understanding, with 57 in-depth interviews, three focus groups, and three months of observation (July-August 2016 and January 2018).

The analysis was done using Atlas.ti software for axial coding on several concepts used in this paper, such as cultural ecological knowledge, integrated water resources management, disaster risk reduction, and volcanic river basin management. The codings were arranged using a multilevel governance theory, which for this case study proposes three phases of volcanic river basin management: Normal (pre-eruption), Disaster (onset eruption), and Normal+ (Post-eruption) within existing governance levels: national, regional, and municipal. The analysis answer the how part of the question by detecting the main activities of actors within the context of water governance, the relationships between actors, and existing boundary spanning operations within the current interaction attempts in multilevel governance.

It reveals that cultural boundary-spanning actors (water whisperers) are the answer to the why part of the question. These actors are more active during disaster volcanic river basin management (VRBM) phase. With them, the cultural-ecological knowledge was brought into the interaction attempts. This condition contributed to the highest level of integration. Therefore, we argue that the integration level of water resources management is higher when more cultural ecological knowledge is used in the interaction attempts. The paper proposes that an understanding of the cultural ecological knowledge enables a better implementation of integrated water resources management for this volcanic river basin.

Case study: 55th ISOCARP Congress Presentations
Year: 2019

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