Managing Disaster Risk in the Coastal Areas of West Sumatra
December 11, 2018
The Disaster Management Team setting up an evacuation tent
On Saturday (1/12), the Disaster Management Team of Karya Bakti Sub Village in the Mentawai Islands, West Sumatra, conducted an earthquake simulation exercise. At 9 AM sharp, a siren was turned on. A few minutes later, more than 100 community members and school children evacuated to a nearby football field. The Disaster Management Team members, each wearing an orange t-shirt, started to run around, giving guidance to the evacuees. Some team members were busy communicating through walkie talkies. Others, drenched in sweat, moved harmoniously to build evacuation tents. Not far from the field, two team members practised search and rescue, helping people to evacuate from ‘debris’. At another corner near the field, a few team members were busy with the food stock, preparing ready-to-eat food for all evacuees. Fish and taro, two of the most well-known local food ingredients, were prepared along with chilli paste, coconut milk and other complementary ingredients.
Almost 20 minutes after the siren sounded, one evacuation tent has been successfully built. All school children took shelter inside the tent, where they were taught to sing a playful song about earthquake safety procedures. Isra, a Deaf member of a disabled people’s organisation (DPO) involved in the simulation, also helped to calm the kids by teaching them Sign Language. Near the tent, two members of the Disaster Management Team gave first aid assistance to some ‘wounded’ evacuees. Not too long after, the food was ready and the evacuees lined up to receive rations.
On that cloudy day, similar activities were also being held in 5 other sub villages in Sipora Jaya Village and the neighbouring villages, Goiso’oinan and Tuapeijat. There were 16 sub villages in total who held a simulation exercise, 8 other sub villages had already organised the activity on the previous day, and 2 other sub villages in the following week. The simulation exercise in each sub village was preceded by a series of trainings for the Disaster Management Team members. Not only practical skills such as first aid, search and rescue, and logistics management, but all team members were also trained on rapid assessment, table top exercises (TTX) and command post exercises (CPX). The series of activities held in the Mentawai Islands are part of ASB’s “Strengthening of Disaster Risk Reduction Capacity and Resilience of the Coastal Community in West Sumatra” programme, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The coastal areas of West Sumatra are exposed to the Indian Ocean and some fractures of continental plates, inducing potential high risks of earthquakes and tsunamis. Some communities on the coastline of the Mentawai Islands are predicted to only have less than 7 minutes to evacuate, in case a tsunami occurs. The programme aims to support community resilience by strengthening the awareness, knowledge and skills of the people in managing disaster risk. This programme is also being implemented in the Pesisir Selatan District, whose areas are prone to landslides and floods. A similar series of capacity building and simulation activities are also being conducted in 13 sub villages in Pesisir Selatan. (Rizma Kristiana/Edit: Taarna Grimsley)