Muhammadiyah Organization, Indonesia: Seas of Change: Bridging between faiths in humanitarian response and risk reduction

November 29, 2018 / Comments Off on Muhammadiyah Organization, Indonesia: Seas of Change: Bridging between faiths in humanitarian response and risk reduction

Published by the Humanitarian Leadership Academy 2017 in Partnership with British Red Cross “Local Humanitarian Action in Practice: Case studies and reflections of local humanitarian actors “

 

 


Seas of Change: Bridging between faiths in humanitarian response and risk reduction

 

1. Muhammadiyah Organization, Indonesia

Muhammadiyah Organization, established in 1912, is one of the biggest and oldest faith-based non-governmental organizations in Indonesia. As a religious and social movement run by volunteers, Muhammadiyah was originally founded to improve the understanding of Islamic teachings and social welfare. It has since extended its mission to include the provision of immediate relief during disasters and disaster risk reduction.

Based in the city of Yogyakarta, Muhammadiyah has around 35 million members in its 34 branches across Indonesia. It has 20 special agencies that implement specific programmes and functions, and seven wing organizations, including associations of women, young people, and university students. Muhammadiyah also runs a huge number of institutions, including 457 hospitals and clinics 176 universities and colleges, 635 care homes for orphans and other vulnerable groups, 19.000 schools, and 13.000 mosques.

In 2010, the Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center (MDMC) was created as a special agency to lead the organization’s work on disaster response and disaster risk reduction. MDMC coordinates various areas of work within the wider Muhammadiyah organization. For example, it has collaborated with the Council of Fatwa to publish an Islamic perspective on disaster relief, and DRR as a theological basis for humanitarian assistance. It has also worked with Muhammadiyah’s branches and wings to increase the organization’s emergency response capacity, and with its hospitals and schools on disaster mitigation and preparedness.

Muhammadiyah’s shift of emphasis towards long-term DRR has been informed by its experience in a series of large-scale disasters and humanitarian interventions. According to Dr. Rahmawati Husein, Vice Chair of MDMC, and Assistant Professor at Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, there are two major reasons for this change.

First, the organization has come to realize it urgently needs to protect its assets:  it has schools, hospitals, colleges, and universities, that are exposed to these hazards. Second, because of the immense size of the organization,  Muhammadiyah saw the potential of reaching out and increasing the capacity of its own members and volunteers.

Muhammadiyah started building its disaster risk management capacity through a national task force for disaster response and recovery called POSKO Muhammadiyah (Posko PPM), which in 2010 became the MDMC.

Outside Indonesia, Muhammadiyah:

  • has provided aid to people caught up in the Gaza conflict in 2010 and in 2014 to 2016, sending donations through the Palestinian Embassy
  • sent field medical teams to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013
  •  set up field hospitals after the Nepal Earthquake in 2015, in a response that included Indonesian Humanitarian Assistance (IHA), the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), and the Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI)
  • raised funds for the displaced population seeking refuge in Bangladesh to escape violence in Rakhine, Myanmar

Muhammadiyah has a budget of US$ 3.32 million in 2017, of which US$ 584.814 has been allocated for MDMC activities. Of this amount, 20 % is spent on overhead costs.

2. Humanitarian Interventions

2.1. Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004, Banda Aceh

The immense impact and scale of the of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami posed an unprecedented challenge for international aid agencies and the Indonesian Government, which at that time did not have a contingency plan for the tsunami. The response of NGOs was critical during the immediate aftermath. This period also saw an increase in the international and local organizations involved in the recovery effort. In Banda Aceh alone, the number of registered international NGOs rose to about 180 by June 2005, alongside some 430 known local NGOs.

These organizations varied in their scale, development orientation, the scope of services, and programme attributes. Some were registered at UN offices, some with the Indonesian government, while others were small volunteer community groups.

Muhammadiyah was one of the first local organizations on the scene. Its reach and size meant it was able to mobilize volunteers and resources immediately from other branches. The Central Board of Muhammadiyah set up a team called the Committee of Aceh Relief and Recovery, which coordinated with the local (Aceh) Muhammadiyah branch. Muhammadiyah started by mobilizing thousands of volunteers from Java to Aceh in Sumatra, particularly for healthcare and education work. But as the response progressed, it started training local organizations. The nature of Muhammadiyah’s collaborative interventions after the tsunami are described below.

  • Transport and LogisticsAfter the tsunami, Muhammadiyah received a huge volume of donations, and thousands of volunteers enlisted to help. The transportation of equipment and volunteers became a huge logistical problem. To address this, Muhammadiyah worked with The Asia Foundation (TAF), which supported the operational cost and transport of the national management team and the medical teams from Java to Aceh for six months. Muhammadiyah also collaborated with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to bus volunteers from nearby cities and provinces to Banda Aceh City to help with evacuation and distribution. IOM also provided trucks to transport food, clothes, and medical aid from a port of Medan, through which all of Muhammadiyah’s relief supplies were shipped. Muhammadiyah also worked with more than 30 other local, national, and international organizations; private sector firms such as airline companies; and media organizations to transport supplies and develop relief and recovery programmes
  • Child Protection and Education. Muhammadiyah worked with UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Welfare to provide safe spaces where children in 13 zones could learn and recover from the trauma of the disaster with the support of social workers and volunteers. Immediately after the tsunami and for three years afterward Muhammadiyah helped set up and run a children center programme. It also rebuilt permanent Muhammadiyah elementary schools destroyed during the tsunami with new child-friendly features, such as spacious classrooms, separate toilets for boys and girls, and a large courtyard. With a grant from Australian Aid (AusAid), Muhammadiyah strengthened emergency educational capacity under the Learning Assistance Program for Islamic Schools (LAPIS). The programme allowed teachers in Muhammadiyah schools to continue teaching and receiving a salary. It provided students with textbooks, school supplies, and uniforms. The AusAid recovery grant supported two further disaster-preparedness-in-school programmes – Child Disaster Awareness for School and Community Preparedness for Disaster Management – between 2006 and 2010. Muhammadiyah also worked closely with Youth Off the Streets (YOTS), run by Father Chris Riley, to identify separated and orphaned children and to give them the care, protection, and psychosocial support they needed. Muhammadiyah helped YOTS set-up activities that were sensitive to the cultural and religious context of Aceh.
  • Communications. With the support of The Asia Foundation (TAF), Muhammadiyah established community radio stations, including Radio Komunitas Suara Muhammadiyah (Voice of Muhammadiyah Community Radio) which is thought to be the first radio station to have begun broadcasting after the tsunami.
  • Health. Muhammadiyah provided emergency healthcare, including pharmaceutical and medical supplies, and personal hygiene packs for women.
  • Working with volunteers. Medical teams and volunteers from Singapore and Croatia worked with Muhammadiyah volunteers to provide emergency medical aid, evacuate, victims, and take part in the massive clean-up operation. These teams were joined by students from Muhammadiyah University’s Health Department in Aceh to provide healthcare in remote areas.
  • Advocacy. At the national level, Muhammadiyah advocated for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR – Badan Rehabilitasi dan Rekonstruksi) for Aceh and Nias to include post-tsunami reconstruction in the national budget.

The post-tsunami reconstruction effort marked a fundamental breakthrough for disaster risk reduction. It was the moment that the UN Special Envoy for Recovery and former US President Bill Clinton called on the world to “build back better” and inspired new and durable DRR solutions. In 2006, Indonesia instituted the Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning System (Ina TEWS), which is quickly able to determine if an earthquake is likely to produce a tsunami (CFE-DMHA, 2015)

2.2. Yogyakarta Earthquake of 2006 and Mt. Merapi Eruption in 2010

Two years after the tsunami, in 2006, a series of earthquakes hit Yogyakarta and Central Java, killing 5,778 people and injuring more than 38,000. According to IFRC figures, almost 600,000 houses were damaged or destroyed and nearly 1,2 million people were left homeless.

Muhammadiyah coordinated its various response from its branches, units, wings, schools, universities, and hospitals, many of which were severely affected by the quake. Muhammadiyah also worked with Australian Emergency Teams of doctors, nurses, psychologists, and physiotherapists to treat survivors. It received an AusAid grant to set up temporary medical clinics, field clinics, childcare facilities, village meeting centers, and a livelihood programme.

The Japanese Embassy helped the Muhammadiyah Hospital in Bantul procure ambulance, which was also supported by Direct Relief International. as well as a field clinic, to meet the rising demands of the emergency.

From October to November 2010, Mount Merapi in Central Java started a violent series of eruptions. More than 350,000 people were displaced and 353 killed. During and after the eruptions, Muhammadiyah ran a sustainable livelihood and economic recovery programme. It aimed to help disaster victims rebuild and improve their business and make it easier to get funding. Training on entrepreneurship, food production, livelihood cooperatives, and marketing were provided to people affected by the crisis.

2.3. Establishment of MDMC in 2010

Following the three major disasters outlined above, Muhammadiyah created the Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center (MDMC), a special unit working extensively on humanitarian response and DRR. Every year since 2011, Muhammadiyah has been sending capable emergency teams to respond to between 24 and 48 crises hour throughout Indonesia using local (national and sub-national) resources. They include assessment teams, and psychosocial teams, which are currently organized through the ‘One Muhammadiyah One Response’ mechanism. Muhammadiyah has also set up a mechanism to finance relief efforts through in-kind donations and humanitarian funds.

2.4. Inter-faith and intra-faith collaboration and dialogue

Muhammadiyah recognizes the importance of working with other faith-based organizations (FBOs) and local faith institutions (LFIs), as they have a long history of emergency response at the grassroots level. Often, they are among the first to respond to disasters and have social and material assets that make them a natural locus for support, information and conflict resolution (Husein, 2016). Muhammadiyah worked to address proselytization in predominantly Muslim areas, respecting protocol while allowing people to freely practice their faith. It also works with local faith groups in predominantly Christian communities. For example, it provided health services to local Catholic communities after the 2010 floods in Papua and the 2012 volcanic eruption in Rokatenda, East Nusa.

Muhammadiyah, along with six other FBOs, established the Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI). The forum has grown from 11 members in 2012 to its current 15 members. It works to reduce religious tensions and promote humanitarian principles and the Code of Conduct. According to HFI’s website, it is “committed to building a mutual understanding between humanitarian actors especially NGOs, across differences in background, ethnic race, tribe, religion and countries, to campaign for norms and humanitarian standard principles through dialogue, and developing partnership…”

HFI is a member of the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) and works closely with the Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Management on humanitarian relief and DRR. “These two key platforms grew together,” says Dr. Husein, “Supporting policies as well as undertaking humanitarian response together.”

Muhammadiyah, along with other HFI members, has set up the Indonesian Humanitarian Alliance (IHA). HA and HFI are currently supporting the displaced Rohingya population in Bangladesh, where Muhammadiyah leads on emergency medical assistance, and the affected communities in Rakhine in Myanmar.

3. Impact and Enabling Elements

  • Civil society leader. Muhammadiyah is a recognized civil society leader in DRR and humanitarian response,” states Dr. Husein. It is a member of the NDMA Advisory Board and has to lead the role in building the capacity of health systems and in education in emergencies. Muhammadiyah prides itself on the expertise on disaster preparedness and the response it has gained as a leading voluntary organization. Muhammadiyah prides itself on the expertise on disaster preparedness and the response it has gained as a leading voluntary organization. Through MDMC, Muhammadiyah ensures that its volunteers are well equipped and trained: a key element of its success. It recently secured a permit to run the certification training for healthcare in emergencies.  Many members of MDMC have received national certification for search and rescue as well as for emergency managers and medical emergency officer. The organization is also working to integrate DRR into its religious training, schools, hospitals, and university research and development.
  • Reach and networks. As a huge national organization, Muhammadiyah’s strength lies in its reach and wide network of local volunteers and partners. These include mosques, prayer houses, hospitals, clinics, orphanages, nursery homes, schools, credit savings unions and universities. It has used this network to better respond to humanitarian disaster and collaborate on community-based DRR.
  • Catalyst outside and within. Muhammadiyah has been involved in humanitarian and DRR policy development in Indonesia. It has worked successfully between and across faiths on DRR and humanitarian response while remaining firmly grounded in humanitarian principles and Islamic teachings. Over time, the organization has increased its strategic presence and improved its ability to deliver relief as soon as disaster strikes. MDMC has integrated DRR into the organization’s programmes and plans, such as its safe schools, and safe hospitals projects. It has also made DRR part of the Muhammadiyah university curriculum. As a change-leader, MDMC has a high representation of women decision-makers and managers.
  • Sustainability. Muhammadiyah estimates that for its 2015 to 2018 budgets, it has received between 25-40% of its funding from international donors and around 25-40% from national and local donors. Other sources include pooled funds and in-kind contributions during emergency response. Muhammadiyah branches also provide counterpart contributions once they receive matching support from the National/ Central Board. The organization also receives funding from the National government for its safe school programme and the local government for the community resilience and preparedness activities. Muhammadiyah also raises funds for its work through donations from its members and international donors. It recently raised US$ 1 million for displaced communities fleeing violence in the Myanmar state of Rakhine. MDMC also fundraises from philanthropists, with proceeds coming from infaq and shadaqoh (charity and alms), zakat (2.5% of income), and wakaq (land and property) for specific causes. Every branch of Muhammadiyah sustain itself by running its own provincial/ local enterprises, kindergartens, philanthropic cooperatives, hospitals, clinics, and schools.

4. Challenges

  • Scale and geography. In Aceh after the 2004 tsunami, the scale and nature of the devastation was so immense that a standalone response was not sufficient. To make matters worse, Aceh was embroiled in conflict, leading to distrust and prejudice among the local community. Muhammadiyah found it difficult to organise its resources and had no special unit to lead the response and recovery. Indonesia is a huge, archipelagic country. which makes transporting people and resources incredibly challenging. It is also extremely prone to natural and climate-induced disasters, putting an extra strain on its resources.
  • Localising response. Muhammadiyah still finds some international NGOs working directly with communities without collaborating with local NGOs. Thus, Dr. Husein pointed out the importance of localising humanitarian assistance. Local NGOs have much greater capacity than they used to, but still face challenges in securing funds for emergency relief, preparedness and DRR.
  • Volunteer commitment. Maintaining the commitment of the staff, who are mostly volunteers, while upholding professional standards of services is a challenge for the organization. Engaging volunteers in capacity building and response is one way to motivate them. The organisation also has to think through succession at the highest decision-making level.

5. Lesson learned and next steps

  • Values. Be persistent in applying humanitarian principles in programmes and assistance,” Dr. Husein says. The focus of Muhammadiyah’s work continues to be founded in humanity, working across faiths and contexts, and getting the organization to work on behalf of the affected communities.
  • Structure and vision. According to Dr. Husein, “Finding the right structure that works for the organisation is important, but it also has to be flexible. This means working closely with the management and members, and trying to balance both individual and institutional capacity to successfully deliver. One has to find the right persons within to support these goals.”
  • Network. The power of Muhammadiyah’s network proves that it can create support and gain recognition, as well as inspire self-confidence and self-reliance, increasing the effectiveness of emergency response and DRR. Its leadership, as well as support to key humanitarian platforms, is an important pillar of the organization’s success.
  • Capacity. Investing in organizational and staff capacity and experience over time has proven to inspire confidence and self-reliance, It has prioritized strengthening its own ranks to ensure that their branches, management, and volunteers have the capacity to sustain their operations and manage disaster response.

Source: Page 56 to 61 “Local Humanitarian Action in Practice: Case studies and reflections of local humanitarian actors”, Published by the Humanitarian Leadership Academy 2017 in Partnership with British Red Cross