SERIAL DISCUSSION | WEBINAR coexistence with COVID-19: Learning from the crisis for a better Integrated Water Resources Management.”

Indonesia, 30 June 2020 -- Global Water Partnership Southeast Asia and the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Indonesia successfully organized a Webinar "Coexistence with COVID-19: Learning from the crisis for a better Integrated Water Resources Management.” The webinar was held in Bahasa Indonesia was the third from the SERIAL DISCUSSION, co-organized by the two organization.

he SERIAL DISCUSSION coexistence with COVID-19| WEBINAR: Learning from the crisis for a better Integrated Water Resources Management (Serial Diskusi Hidup Berdampingan dengan Covid-19 | Webinar: Belajar dari krisis untuk pengelolaan air terpadu yang lebih baik) was the third from the serial discussion, focus on learning from the crisis for a better IWRM. GWP-SEA collaborated with the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Indonesia. The decision to hold a webinar was taken after the live Instagram event was successfully conducted on the 21st May 2020 and the urgency to raise the issues for the larger audience.

For this event, 127 participants were registered and less than 40% were not able to attend due to technical issues and other matters.

The webinar opened by Ms. Virgie Baker the politician and former journalist that acted as the moderator. The session was then followed by a presentation from Mr. Fany Wedahuditama of GWP-SEA and Mr. Aldi Muhammad Alizar of IAP2 Indonesia who shared their view of COVID-19 from the perspective of water and public participation. Mr. Fany highlighted build back better and incorporated the philosophy of the IWRM approach whilst Mr. Aldi emphasized digital engagement as an innovation that considers importance during a pandemic situation.

 The expert panels representing wide stakeholders such as the national government, International Water Law practitioner and researcher, International NGO, International Gender and Social Inclusion Expert, and International Organization shared their opinion on water management from the stand-point of the COVID-29 pandemic.

Mr. Abdul Malik Sadat Idris, the Director of Water Resources and Irrigation, Ministry of National Development Planning shared government strategy to dealing with COVID-19 through the enactment of PERPU no. 1/2020 that focuses on budgeting to stabilize the economy. In his presentation, he explained that Indonesia has a big modality in terms of the number of available water resources. However, the challenge is how to get the best utilization of water resources sustainably. While structural development is being halted, it is now a precious time to focus on water management. This can be done by focusing the resources on improving the strategy, revising the master plan to support vital infrastructure, including build-back better during the recovery phase of disaster management for 30 cities in Indonesia. Another strategy concerning water is refocusing the national strategic project as it is also affected by the pandemic, in particular increasing water provision services, rehabilitation of critical watershed, and construction of multipurpose dams. Furthermore, improving public access to information is also considered as an important task.

Dr. Mova Al’ Afghani, Director for Center for Regulation, Policy, and Governance (CRPG) and lecture at the University of Ibn Khaldun. He explained resiliency or water security is not explicitly regulated under the new Water Resources Law. However, the principle of resiliency somehow reflected. In the article 20, any higher administrative level can take over the management of water resources of a lower administrative level if the responsibility is not being carried out due to capacity limitation, in particular, to develop an appropriate river model. He emphasized the importance of river basin planning developed by the national level with its implementation as often the local government has not adopted it under their local planning document such as water allocation, program.

Dr. Mova added, until 2016, pollution load capacity for a river has not been accommodated by any regulation; and to date, the waste-water discharge permit mostly still refers to the past regulation. For water supply services, COVID-19 has reducing water utility capacity to deliver or maintain their services. As for the consumer side, currently there still no regulation that prohibited the water utilities to cut their services if their consumer cannot afford to pay for services, in particular, due to pandemic circumstances.

Reza Hendrawan, WASH Specialist at UNICEF Indonesia explained in a disaster situation, 11 clusters system according to the sector has been established. Water and Sanitation Hygiene is one of the clusters, separated from others which will make it easier to coordinate interventions from all the stakeholders. In Indonesia, 8 cluster systems have been adopted by BNPB (The National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure) since 2014. However, the challenge is there is no dedicated cluster for WASH as it was arranged as part of the cluster protection and refuge, infrastructure, and Health. The good news to share is the WASH stakeholders have started a weekly meeting every Tuesday since March 2020 to coordinate and assist the government to disseminate the new policies and regulations to the community concerning COVID-19. We also carry out advocacy to ensure the WASH sector to becoming a dedicated cluster to make the coordination process easier. An example of difficulty for WASH sector stakeholders to coordinate with others to provide services was from the case city of Palu that suffered from the combined earthquake, tsunami, soil liquefaction, landslide, and down lift in September 2018.

Ms. Sinta Dewi, a Gender and social inclusion expert shared her opinion on the challenges in developing a gender-sensitive indicator in the Indonesia water sector. She explained in general, Indonesia has developed a guideline on how to include a gender-sensitive indicator in budgeting and program at the technical ministerial such as at the Ministry of Public Works that responsible for water resources management and water services. She argued the problem identified at the nation level usually arises during the implementation of a project or program by a contractor as often it is still not regulated. Besides, at a local government level, low political commitment in budgeting development still hindering the progress in implementing a gender-sensitive program and project. In the water sector, women play a significant role in gaining access to water, in particular in a water-stressed area. Attention should be given by the local government to the water access as there is a high correlation between access to improved water and sanitation to childhood mortality and stunting. A study showed approximately 31% of children's death below 5 years old mainly due to diarrhea. Concerning the stunting, Indonesia still has a higher rate compared to other countries in the Southeast Asia region. Women and marginal group participation in WASH facility still low.

Ms. Gracia Pleninta Agnindhira, a Project officer at the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Indonesia shared that, “In Indonesia, we have identified that the private sectors are not ready to dealing with the worst scenario during this pandemic situation”. Two challenges by the private sectors were identified. First, not so many private sectors have developed a robust business continuity plan and therefore it is important to develop a practical mitigation plan on hydro-meteorology disasters and pandemic. This situation should be internalized not only by the private sector but also by the decision-makers and finance sectors. Compare to the 10 years before, there was an improvement in the development of a robust business continuity plan, however, the adoption of water-related issues is still lacking. It is also important to address the risk of direct and indirect water use (by supplier) without having to focus on administration or operational site boundaries. When there is a limitation, the businesses can adjust. The latter is then highly related to the second challenge.

The second challenge highlighted by Ms. Gracia is financing toward improving their water resources management. Therefore, both local government and private sector must share their plans or initiatives, resources, and how it can affect the environment and community. The businesses should consider planning according to a river basin boundary, from the upstream to downstream and identifying risks altogether with broad stakeholders and involving public participation, in particular within Forum DAS (River Basin Forum). The Alliance for Water Stewardship at the global level and Indonesia is now trying to improve the financial capacity of the enterprises to improve resiliency in managing water resources. The example is available in South America and Africa that able to access funds from Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

The webinar followed by questions and answers session then later the participants were arranged into 6 break-out groups to discuss the challenges and opportunities in more detail.

The recorded webinar can be accessed in our Facebook Page (conducted in Bahasa Indonesia).