Erma Susanti

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2004


This profile was prepared when Erma Susanti was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
In large cities across Indonesia, government authorities routinely evict poor families from their homes to make room for “urban beautification” or profitable development projects. Media reports tend to portray these families either as helpless victims or as criminal elements deserving eviction. Defying such portrayals, Erma Susanti helps residents of urban slums to become advocates for their communities and protectors of their environment. With her support, they renovate their neighborhoods, restore their environment, and publicize the key role they play in securing Indonesia’s social and economic health.
As poor residents assert their social value, they build their power to negotiate with the government and seek alternatives to mass eviction. Erma recruits teams of scientists and policy professionals to lend rigor to environmental restoration efforts and to mediate between the needs of the poor and the desires of government. Her network currently unites dozens of communities along the Surabaya River, and is now spreading to other urban poor communities across Indonesia.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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