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Rural-Urban Dynamics: Social Inovation In Culture, Environment And Health

In the second decade of the 21st century, Indonesia is among the fastest urbanizing countries in Asia with more than half of its population residing in urban areas (Wilonoyudho et al. 2017). In 2018 Indonesian government is planning to equip 500 regencies across the country with IT and infrastructure to develop smart cities.  What is overlooked in this scheme is the impact of the fast pace urbanization to the rural villages and the informal settlement termed as kampungs within the city area.  The most visible impacts in rural area are land use change and depletion of productive age population in rural area due to urban migration. In the cities, overpopulation and expansion of industrial areas cause potential health hazard to the marginalized informal settlements or kampungs – which actually supply manpower and support city to the cities. Urban-rural dynamics also affect lifestyle, eating habit and nutrition, which has implication to health and wellbeing.

This multi-disciplinary research sets out to investigate the ways in which different processes of urbanization have caused social-cultural, health, and environmental impacts on urban or peri-urban kampungs, rural as well desa-kota and rural villages. living environment in terms of water, waste and health management and to find out the strategic ways the academia can support community based activism and social innovation to achieve quality living environment in urban/peri-urban kampung and rural villages.

It aims at identifying, mapping, and abstracting various types of urban-rural dynamics, problems, agencies, and initiatives existing in all of the sites in order to allow new ways of theorizing urbanization as well as developing the potentials of each site to sustain itself as a community amidst the continuous urban expansions. In terms of health, the research inquires the evolvement of inflammatory diseases in terms of diet and microbiome as a result of urbanization in the urban area. On the other hand, the research examines the correlation between stunting and with gut and oral health, cognition, WASH, and socio-cultural aspects in rural area.

The research is conducted in 6 sites: 5 urban/peri-urban kampungs in Jabodetabek, namely Kampung Cimone and Markisa (Kel. Karawaci), Cikini (Central Jakarta), Nambo (South Tangerang) and Gedung Pompa (North Jakarta) and one rural area in Flores, namely Kecamatan Nangapanda, Flores.  The five Jabodetabek kampungs represent some of the densely populated area with different characteristics, from the water-catchment peri-urban area in the South to the bay area in the North, from the old kampung in the city center area o those located in the newly industrialized area of Karawaci. The Nangapanda area is a rural/desa-kota district which encompasses coastal and mountain area. All the 6 sites have marked issues in waste, water and health.

The research applies combined method of quantitative and qualitative approach. To acquire base line data (including demographic, socio-economic and lifestyle information), a quantitative survey using questionnaire is used to collect 150 samples of household units in each  Jabodetabek kampungs, totalling 717 valid samples due to few imperfect/discarded ones. In Nangapanda, health examinations are done on 200 students (from 24 schools in different villages) whose families provide the household data. Qualitative approach consists of ethnographic observation and interviews. Besides the base line data, different emphasis and instruments are used for specific sites which has distinct issues in health, waste or water management, so eclectic mixed method are used. Among these are: spatial, GIS and remote sensing mapping and multi-criteria assessment (BREEAM).

Although intersection between the soci-cultural, health and infrastructure has been developed in the existing scholarship, a focus on rural-urban kampung and villages is the novelty of the research. Not least important is the transdisciplinary approach of this collaborative research. In conducting the research, inhabitants and activists in the research sites are treated as partners in the process of knowledge formation.  Besides producing articles for academic publication, the team also published story books as a give-back to the communities as an educational intervention to enhance understanding of health and nutrition.

The  multi-dimensional approach of this research has shown the intersection between lifestyle, economic dimension, and health in various sites of the research, both in the urban and the rural areas. While the existing scholarship mostly refer to differences between the rural and the urban, the research has shown that urban transformation had extended to the rural areas, while the urban has indication of integrating urban farming into the kampong crowded environment. The implication of such urban transformation to health still needs to be futher studied. In the rural area of Nangapanda the data shows connection between stunting, gut and oral health with host factors, cognitive status, environment and socio-cultural factors. Based on this research, short and long-term health intervention for pre-school and school age children in rural areas of East Nusa Tenggara are developed.

This research contributes to the growing scholarship in urban kampong and rural villages by integrating both the urban kampong and the rural village in the study of informal everyday lives in the Global South. The novelty of this research also lies in the interlacing of multiple dimensions (socio-economic-cultural-health) in the context of rural-urban dynamic and transformation. The research also highlights the need for multi-layered commoning, an important cultural asset of urban and rural communities in the Global South. The finding also anticipate future exploration with the main focus on the network of urban kampung and rural villages  in the context of SDGs in dealing with metabolic syndrome, water provision, and waste management.

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