Monday, 28 June 2010

A kalabubu, a letter and a toolkit

I depart for New Zealand next week after four years working in Indonesia. This is my last full week and it has been an unusual one as I have received a kalabubu, a letter and participated in a meeting on toolkits.

A kalabubu is a masculine ornament from the island of Nias, symbolizing high prestige and war success. In pre-national Nias, headtaking was associated with royalty, creative power, and masculinity. This kalabubu necklace  (above)proclaimed that the wearer had taken a human head from an outsider group (sometimes in another region of the island) and had brought it back to the village, at the same time bringing creativity and protective forces to his community. Such an act also signified that the man was now an adult.
I am most grateful to Nigel Ede for giving me a kalabubu. Nigel has just finished his tenure on Nias where he ran the Red Cross earthquake recovery operation.

With e-mail being the main form of communication these days, it was a pleasure to receive a letter last week by Indonesian post. These joys come rarely nowadays so I used my ancient letter opener to slice the envelope open. The letter read :

Dear Mr.Bob McKerrow,

The recovery effort following the  2004 tsunami brought together people from all corners of the world united in their dedication to help those most in need.

Although the public may have forgotten about the disaster, those who took part in rebuilding have committed to share the lessons with the world through the Tsunami Global Lessons Learned (TGLL).

This program is a joint initiative by theInternational Federation of the Red
Cross, United Nations and the Agency for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (BRR)Aceh-­‐Nias, bringing together country representatives from countries affected by the tsunami along with recovery players.

Next week,TGLL will host a brainstorming session for the Development of
Tool Kit for Disaster Recovery Practitioners.
The BRR Institute on behalf of TGLL would like to invite you to this discussion.

We believe your valuable contribution will help make the tool kit beneficial
to host governments and the actors on the ground....


Kuntoro Mangkusubroto
Signing an MoU for the 'Toolkit'. L to R. Bob McKerrow, Satya Tripathi, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto and  Loy Rego

So why am I making such a fuss about a toolkit ? In summary, it will be an opportubnity for those of us who have worked throughout the tsunami relief to recovery operation, to record our experiences and pass them on. Here is additional information for those who may ne interested.

1.1 Purpose of the toolkit

• To document the experiences of handling large scale reconstruction and recovery programmes and their complexities in order to provide guidance in the future after a disaster when new agencies are created or individuals tasked with managing agencies responsible for reconstruction and recovery.

• To provide a collation of key recovery related documents (such as reconstruction policies, institutional arrangements, guidelines etc.) produced after recent large scale disasters, for ready reference in future.

• To build capacity of agencies both at national and local level to enhance their ability in planning and implementing recovery programmes, estimating and allocating resources, increasing utilization of local institutions and capacities, and executing in time bound manner.

• To equip the agencies tasked with reconstruction and recovery, on sector specific (shelter, livelihood, critical infrastructure, environmental management) ‘know how’ of recovery programmes.

Some of the participants at a brainstorming session for the Development of a Tool Kit for Disaster Recovery Practitioners. Photo: Bob McKerrow

1.2 Target users of the toolkit

• Government agencies at national and sub-national level tasked with managing reconstruction and recovery programmes (in some case these are existing agencies given additional responsibilities, and in some cases new institutions are created after a large scale disaster)

• Sectoral line agencies responsible for implementing sector specific reconstruction and recovery programmes

• UN Agencies, inter-governmental organisations, NGOs and development partners supporting the Government and the affected communities in the process of reconstruction and recovery.

From L to R. Dr. Kuntoro, Loy Rego and Bill Nicol at the workshop.
Photo: Bob McKerrow

1.3 Scope of the toolkit

• Current scope of the toolkit would focus primarily on the experiences of reconstruction and recovery program in the tsunami affected countries.

• Readily available documentations from other recent large scale disasters such as 2001 Gujarat earthquake, 2005 Kashmir earthquake, 2008 Cyclone Nargis and 2008 Sichuan earthquake would be referred

• Subsequent version of the toolkit would take a multi-hazard approach and capture experiences in relation to other specific hazards in Asia such as earthquake, cyclones, floods etc.

1.4 Components of the toolkit

• Component 1: Handbook for reconstruction and recovery program practitioners

• Component 2: Technical Guidelines on “Build back better”, Scoping Document

• Component 3: Training course on reconstruction and recovery programme implementation targeted at national and local agencies/institutions responsible for managing reconstruction and recovery.
The three musketeers: L to R. Satya Tripathi, Bill Nicol and self. Frequently we sit round a desk and discuss how we can make sure the lessons learned from the Tsunami are well documented, and passed on to others. Photo: Yogi Purmami

Satya and Bill have been my soulmates throughout my four years working on the Tsunami in Indonesia. Satya was head of the UN Tsunami operation in Aceh, and Bill was the senior adviser to Pak Kuntoro, the Minister for Tsunami. (BRR). Through many difficult challenges we formed a strong friendship, and enjoyed catching up again for the brainstorming session for the Development of a Tool Kit for Disaster Recovery Practitioners. Bill is working on a comprehensive book on the Tsunami and knowing Bill's journalistic skills and passion for tsunami, it promises to be a cracker.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Congrats on a job well done and people served on another of your assignments. I was talking to Donald from Likeminds on the weekend past and he mentioned how he met you when he was a young lad out in the mountains and you were passing by. Moments we remember. Both of us commented how we use your place to remind ourselves of the wider world.
Hope your last week there is a fantastic one full of celebration, and maybe even a few tears, and that your journey back to your Turangawaewae is safe and happy. Kia kaha.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Kia Ora Robb

Thanks for your kind words. Interesting you and Donald hooked up and talked mountains and hills.

I may remind you of the wider world, and Donald and you remind me of the place I love - Aoatearoa.

Thanks guys.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Bob

Great to see the three musketeers are still a force to be reckoned with. Pak Kuntoro's vision to produce a disaster manager's tool kit has not been forgotten and it is a tribute to his leadership and determination to champion this cause to be better "next time round" that he has you guys on the job.

They will miss you when you finally say farewell to Jakarta but hope you can keep a foot in the door from Colombo.



Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dear Jerry

Thanks for your feedback Jerry. Your name came up a lot during the week, first at the TGLL workshop on the toolkit, and at the farewell dinner hosted for me on Wednesday night where all the ex-BRR people attended, plus Bill and Satya.

Pak Kuntoro was delighted that we lived up to his and your dream by the 3 things we agreed to, Tsunami Legacy report, the Discovery Documentary and the Tool Kit for practicioners.

It is sad about the death of Richard Munz.

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