From the Volcanic Slopes of Merapi to the Catwalks of Jogja: IOM-backed Project Struts Its Stuff

Date Publish: 
Indonesia / Asia

Two years ago, the deadly eruption of Indonesia’s Merapi volcano caused thousands to flee their homes in central Java. As the emergency phase ended IOM started to plan for a livelihoods recovery programme which had a spectacular climax at one of Indonesia’s prime fashion shows earlier this month.

Batik Lereng Merapi (“batik from the slopes of the mountain of fire”) received a rapturous welcome when its traditional designs took pride of place at the biggest fashion event of the year in Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s second city.

Talented young designer Lulu Luthfi Labibi used the batik to produce a collection called “Local Modernity”. The local animal and plant motifs were highly praised by Jogja fashionistas at the city’s trendy Expo Centre. Labibi, winner of last year’s prestigious Indonesian Fashion Designer contest explained why he chose to work with Batik Lereng Merapi:
“It has quite a simple theme with a simple colouring technique. This was interesting and challenging for me, to lift up the local batik as high fashion clothes. I wanted to show that local Batik could be elegant and attractive for any occasion,
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In June 2012, the Merapi affected communities started building permanent housing under the support and monitoring of Indonesian government. © IOM 2012
especially for modern urbanites.”

Ana Ratna Ningsih, the coordinator of batik producers in the area, said all of the batik producers were affected by the eruption of Merapi, either directly or indirectly, so to see their local batik standing side-by-side with masterpieces from 15 national designers was a big thrill. Quite a few follow-up orders were made, which was a huge boost for these producers, most of whom come from tiny hamlets.

Diana Setiawati, National Programme Manager of IOM, said that the provision of support for Batik Lereng Merapi to perform at Jogja Fashion Week is a practical way to enhance village resilience.
“But this is just one of the alternative and creative livelihoods that we identified through field assessment in last few months. We also plan to provide assistance to other sectors, such as mushroom cultivation, food processing, and tourism. Whilst building the capacity of communities in the economic sector, IOM will also link them with disaster risk reduction initiatives,” she said.

The programme took place under the auspices of the Indonesian Multi Donor Fund Facility for Disaster Recovery (IMDFF-DR), a mechanism formed by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia to mobilize international funds to support rehabilitation and reconstruction for disaster areas.

The Merapi Volcanic Eruption Livelihoods Recovery Programme of IMDFF-DR receives funding support from Government of New Zealand which is disbursed through UNDP, IOM, and FAO.

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Diana Setiawati