Talk: Surabaya’s Pro-Poor Shelters
The transformation of Surabaya’s pro-poor shelter effortsA Talk by Dr. Ashok Das, Assistant Professor at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UH Mānoa. January 17, 2017 12:00 – 1:30pm Tokioka Room, Moore Hall 319
The city of Surabaya counts as a pioneer of pro-poor shelter efforts in the developing world for its effective upgrading of urban poor settlements. This presentation synthesizes multiple strands of Dr. Das’s continuing, decade-long research on Surabaya’s settlement upgrading interventions toward urban poverty alleviation. He will illustrate how, with the “local” emerging as the primary locus of governance and planning in a heavily decentralized and democratized post-authoritarian Indonesia, the city’s approach to improving/providing/designing shelter and services to the poor has also transformed, albeit less encouragingly. He attributes achievements and shortcomings of the city’s key efforts to the nature of the spaces that spawned them, shaped by evolving institutional environments and arrangements. He posits that the transformations in planning and design for shelter for the poor lie on a trajectory with three distinct phases: 1) the pre-decentralization phase of the [benevolent, local] developmental state (the New Order, late 1960s-1998); 2) a decade of post-decentralization flux (1999-2009); and 3) an ongoing phase of intensifying influences of neoliberalism and civil society. During the authoritarian era a strong and exclusive local institutional arrangement formed in Surabaya that fostered innovative shelter design and spatial planning for effective settlement upgrading; its sustained implementation and wide replication certainly empowered the hitherto marginalized urban poor. Yet, post-decentralization, this entrenched aspect of the local institutional environment has failed to catalyze state-civil society-community synergy – essential for making new pro-poor, community-driven initiatives effective and empowering. That and deepening neoliberal forces have stymied further local innovation in shelter and settlement design, and augur a continued attrition of the city’s pro-poor disposition in shelter interventions. From this analysis, he suggests “dos” and “don’ts” in the path ahead for Surabaya.