Concluding the Tsunami Safe Community Project in Rawa Indah, Seluma

Written by Elizabeth Garlick, Michael Goldsmith & Phil Glassey

Following our previous two visits, the StIRRRD team were again in Rawa Indah, Indonesia in July 2018 to build on the work they’ve already undertaken in developing a Tsunami Safe Community Action Plan with locals. This visit was focussed on facilitating a village-wide tsunami evacuation simulation. It involved working with village leaders, local schools, community groups and the district Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) to finalise the arrangements for the evacuation; as well as measure and observe the evacuation itself to get a better understanding of how the locals responded.  The team was once again assisted by its experienced project partners – The University of Bengkulu (UNIB), Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and the National Board for Disaster Management (BPBD).  The team was once again assisted by its experienced project partners – The University of Bengkulu (UNIB), Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and the National Board for Disaster Management (BPBD).

Location of Rawa Indah village, Seluma Regency, Indonesia

The day before the simulation we visited Rawa Indah school to hand over the resources developed with them during previous visits.   These included framed tsunami evacuation posters for each class, signs for the assembly area, evacuation signs and a large information poster to be displayed in a high-traffic area by the school gate. These resources were much-needed and attracted the attention of many students who were eager to learn tsunami safety information. While at the school, we made final plans for the simulation and encouraged the principal to let all classes participate, even new entrants. Children that know about tsunami hazard and response will go home and educate their families, which in turn leads to safer communities.

Information board at Rawa Indah School.  The board includes maps of the school and the evacuation route to the shelter, and tsunami hazard information.



The simulation worked well, with around 240 people from the village making their way to the tsunami shelter – 177 of these people were children – with most people arriving by motor-scooter.   The simulation started at 9.04 am and most people had arrived at the shelter by 9.30 am. After everyone had gathered, local agencies kept the children engaged with hazard education including songs. PMI distributed food packages and we gave away a ‘grab and go’ emergency bag from New Zealand.

We worked with local agencies to debrief after the simulation and created some action points for improvement. Most people heard a warning, either the siren or kentongan (traditional wooden instrument that makes a noise when struck), which was a great start. The kentongan is robust and reliable and has been used for centuries by locals to warn of threats. It was noted that multiple sources of warnings should be used though, and it was noted that BPBD hope to install a system which can provide official warnings directly to the village in the near future.


Training workshop with local volunteers, to finalise arrangements for the tsunami simulation

After the simulation, we initiated some actions that will have an impact on how ready the community will be in the event of a tsunami.   Another positive outcome from this project is that the school has agreed to run the simulation at the start of every school year to keep the information fresh in the children’s minds. The schoolchildren also picked up the evacuation information quickly due to being familiar with the shelter and from the songs previously learnt.

Also, during the week, we undertook a repeat survey about tsunami hazard and response. The survey will give an insight into the effectiveness of our community education programme as well as highlight issues.

Training local volunteers to undertake the community survey

In addition to the Community Project work, the team met with BPBD leaders in Seluma District and also in nearby Bengkulu City, to get an update on the DRR activities they have implemented recently, or are planning in the coming year. Both agencies are making good progress, and are building on the original DRR Action Plans they developed as part of the StIRRRD project. Highlights include:

  • Bengkulu BPBD working with the private sector to formalise access to buildings near the coast, so they can be used in the event of a tsunami warning.
  • Bengkulu BPBD participating in a large-scale Pacific Partnership Exercise that coordinated a field response to many emergency simulation situations including devastating earthquakes. They were proud of their involvement in this and it has given them further confidence in their response capabilities.
  • Bengkulu BPBD are hoping to erect a building using sound construction techniques, that would become an example of sturdy design for locals to adopt themselves. The building could also be used as a station for disaster risk reduction training. The StIRRRD team offered help to gain some additional funding for this project.
  • Seluma BPBD have a number of projects underway. These include adding to their early warning system network, evacuation simulations, and facilitating additional ‘disaster resilient village’ programs.

In addition, some of our team attended a workshop about the Safe Schools programme in Seluma.  A short presentation was given regarding the simple-action messages used in New Zealand, such as “drop, cover, hold” and “long or strong, get gone” as well as the emergency ‘go bag’ concept. Some of our insights and experiences of the Rawa Indah School evacuation simulation were also shared.

The StIRRRD team have returned to New Zealand with several action points to work on to keep the progress moving along in Rawa Indah.  The team is happy with the progress made by local agencies and the community throughout the project, and especially with how well the schoolchildren responded to the evacuation simulation. Thanks to everyone who generously hosted the team during the 3 project visits, and to the local volunteers who gave up their time for an important community cause.


Tsunami information boards at the shelter

Earthquake hits Lombok – some reflections from the StIRRRD Team

On Sunday 5 August 2018 at 7.46 pm (local time) a powerful, magnitude 6.9, earthquake hit the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok, killing at least 250 people and caused damage in neighbouring Bali.

This was the second deadly quake in a week to hit Lombok. A July 29 quake killed 17 people and damaged hundreds of houses, some of which collapsed in last Sunday evening’s quake, killing those inside. Poor construction techniques used for houses is a big issue for Indonesia and requires significant education and capacity building amongst the community.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference that damage was “massive” in northern Lombok, and in several districts, more than half the homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

Although none of the New Zealand based team members are in Indonesia currently, Michele Daly (Project Director of StIRRRD) said that Mataram City on Lombok Island is in the thick of the earthquake’s impact zone. Mataram City is one of the StIRRRD case study cities and is in the West Nusa Tenggara province.

Mataram City in relation to Bali and epicentre

Image: Lombok and Mataram City in relation to the quake’s epicentre. Tremors were felt across the neighbouring island of Bali (Source: BBC)

On hearing about the quake, the team’s immediate concerns turned to the people in Indonesia, and especially those who the StIRRRD team work closely with within the local Emergency Agency and other government Agencies and the University of Mataram. Due to the quake’s size, many of them and their families have been badly impacted.

Staff from Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta visited Mataram City to undertake building damage and community vulnerability assessments, and sent through photos that show the extent of damage around the University of Mataram’s campus, see below:

Structural damage Golden Palace Hotel, Mataram
Structural damage engineering Faculty University of Mataram
Non -structural (ceiling) damage University of Mataram

Mataram City is at risk from a range of natural hazards including floods and extreme weather, drought, landslides volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and due to high population density and poor construction methods, large scale events affect many people.

Phil Glassey, a Disaster Risk Reduction Scientist at GNS Science, reflected on the StIRRRD team’s visit to Gol Village in North Lombok in 2014. The team observed several houses that had been damaged or were being rebuilt after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake the year before, so the impacts from the recent quakes will take a long time for communities to recover from.

While a tsunami was not observed following last Sunday’s quake, this is a potential hazard due to the Mataram’s proximity to the ocean. The Lombok Strait is located on the City’s western margin and the Sunda Trench, to the south of Mataram, experiences large earthquakes capable of generating tsunamis.

Dr John Ristau, a seismologist at GNS Science comments:

The magnitude 6.9 Loloan, Indonesia earthquake was a reverse faulting earthquake at a depth of 31 km.

Reverse thrusting fault

Image Credit: California geological Survey

In this area the Sunda plate to the north subducts beneath the Indonesian Arc, and the mechanism of the earthquake is consistent with reverse-faulting on the Indonesian Arc thrust.

The Pacific Island arc from Samoa to Indonesia is one of the most seismically active regions on Earth, and earthquakes of this size are not unusual. In the region within about 500 km of the epicentre there have been at least 15 earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 and above in the last 10 years.

Earthquakes of this size will produce significant aftershock activity. However, plate interface earthquakes tend to have less vigorous aftershock sequences than shallow crustal earthquakes of comparable size.