Civil society engagements are important in city planning as their role seen to comprehend and fill the gap of society needs. As the purpose of urban or city planning is for society sustainability, the idea of participatory approach could answer the challenge of what should be provided and how. The community-based activities are deeply rooted with the social engagements of culture and tradition enabling them to deliberately express their needs and preferences in the society level. Their activities reflect their capability in understanding their issues and with their experience, some ideas are addressed and proved to bring the solutions. Therefore, this experience is also reflected and applied in disaster management in which being victims of disaster raise their awareness on the participation in land reconstruction. The desertion of community involvement in this case seems to increase the vulnerability.
The concept of community-led planning is rooted in Japanese society since post World War II. After the war, the approach of the country to escalate their dignity was massively turning a devastated country into a full-of-hope country by rapid and intensive development. Industries in urban area had turned most of city to be more polluted where they also lived in. The impacts to the society resulted in the society engagements and movements to speak up their problems with respects to environmental and health issues. Thus, the community organization was raised or called “Machizukuri”. Following by the situation, machizukuri has evolved as the most influential actor particularly in city planning, they have purpose to prevent unwanted changes and promote desired changes. Later on the power of civil society in terms of machizukuri played significant role in disaster management.
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In this paper, the concept and evolution of machizukuri from social movement to “soft-infrastructure” of city level in delivering and maintaining the community needs in post-disaster stage are discussed. Firstly, introduction or background of the establishment of machizukuri as community movement to protest due to massive industrial activities impacts. In the section two, a study case of The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in Kobe in 1995 are chosen to review the role and process of machizukuri in disaster management in the context of urban renewal and land readjustment. Next, challenges of machizukuri in the process of city planning are delivered which derive the lesson learned of community-based activities in participatory planning particularly in disaster relief and reduction. The lesson within the succeed of machizukuri in identifying their problem and needs, leads to the deliberation of the collective actions which highly become experiences to the other communities in other regions in the following disaster after Kobe earthquake. This application is presented to see what changes and what the remaining limitations within machizukuri activities and process dealing with their innovation in disaster risk reduction. In the end, the possible improvements or opportunities are proposed to establish the sustainable mechanism for civil society engagement in disaster management.
In order to identify the role and lesson learned of community-based activities for building sustainable mechanism in disaster risk management, the Japanese concept on the machizukuri is vividly explored. The characteristic of civil society in Japanese culture emphasizes the strong emotional bonding in the community or neighborhood level which results in strong social networks. The form of community activities mainly the actions from different actors who have shared interests by voluntarily express their idea through any means or resources with an array of time, skill, and not less with their capital resources. Many of them have diverse professions from ordinary civil society to businessman and expertise. Although a gap may be realized, the rooted connection and emotion amid them may reduce and even diminish the barrier in which their shared purposes are seen the most important to achieve.
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Machizukuri is not a new concept which in 1970s, it was highly promoted as a new approach as key player dealing with industrial era problems in Kobe. The upcoming of residents’ groups in delivering their collective actions eventually needs a legitimate organization who organizes their aspirations. In 1978, the establishment of machizukuri council in Mano district was seen to be a means to an end as to prevent population shrinkage by attracting young families to live. Altogether with municipal administrations, they developed the ideas and practices in more subtle ways to in existing developed-region. It follows with the development of the area into integrated settlement with other public facilities that promote the livelihood of the community.
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