Funding source: (former) School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Staff Grant

In the last 15 years, Indonesia’s unprecedented decentralisation has devolved a wide range of powers, responsibilities and resources to sub-national government institutions. This process was intended to create more democratic institutions and encourage community engagement and participation.

But what does this mean for the stakeholders of the world’s fourth most populous country, most of whom live in the cities of the archipelago’s four largest islands? Although the country is experiencing strong economic development, 13 percent of the urban population still face acute poor living conditions. 

Collaborating with Indonesia’s Gadja Madah University, Yogyakarta Housing Resource Centre and ArchomJogja, UQ researcher Dr Sonia Roitman is studying how community-based organisations are developing strategies to satisfy their housing needs. Understanding how design and implementation programs address the needs of the urban poor; and assessing the opportunities for communities to influence decision-making processes are central to the project.

By analysing the governance and planning processes related to housing policies in Indonesia - the roles and responsibilities contributed by each stakeholder group – Dr Roitman and her colleagues are seeking solutions for overcoming the inequalities and poverty that hinder the emergence of more just and sustainable cities.

The research will contribute to debates about urban policy-making and governance in similar countries in the Asia-Pacific region, where democratising decision-making and engaging the local communities in the process would create more just and liveable urban environments.