As part of the StIRRRD teams ongoing monitoring and coaching role, we visited all of the districts in the project to gauge their respective progress and where possible, provide some support and advice for building on the initial success of the program.
Following on from a successful visit to Seluma and Bengkulu City in Bengkulu Province, the StIRRRD team travelled to West Sumatra to meet with BPBD in Agam, Padang, and Pesisir Selatan. There, we discussed the progress of the BPBD-led DRR actions plans, as the project moves from phase 1 (plan development and training) to phase 2 (implementation and monitoring). In both Agam and Pesisir Selatan, we presented the district heads with a certificate and a small NZ-themed gift. We checked in with the BPBD in Padang to see how they were progressing as they were one of the pilot districts. The team also met the district parliaments to discuss on-going support of the DRR measures initiated mainly by BPBD.
In Agam we met with members of the district parliament to discuss how the program has progressed, and the success they have had so far. We then met with the regency head (Bupati) who has been a vocal supporter of BPBD Agam’s efforts in raising the understanding of DRR in schools and communities. He even has a music video to raise awareness of DRR. The commitment to the project allowed us to present the Bupati with a certificate to recognise the progress made in Agam towards increased resilience to disasters.
The staff at BPBD Agam are very effective at developing programs and involving other stakeholders in DRR activities. Combined with the government support, there is great hope that Agam will continue to excel and be used as a successful case study for other districts to learn from.
A visit to the Tiku sub-district allowed us to talk with the KSB (Community Disaster Group) about their preparedness plans. They have a special focus on tsunami due to their close proximity to the coastline and they were able to show that they were reasonably well prepared. This has taken a lot of coordination with many government departments and NGO’s (especially Jemari Sakato) under the leadership of the BPBD. It was also here that we learnt from the district BPBD that there was more money allocated in the budget for preparedness than for response, which means that the message of DRR is getting through.
We travelled a short distance back to Padang to check the progress of Kota Padang and see some old friends from the early part of the project. We first met with the BPBD Province, who take a more regional view of the issues that cut across the districts. They are involved in a number of initiatives that involve key stakeholders and NGO’s. They were very supportive of the StIRRRD program and hoped that we could assist with other districts in the province. We believe that the lessons learnt by districts within the program could be very useful for other districts as they start the long process of DRR. We then had a very useful meeting with Kota Padang BPBD who updated us on their progress and the many programs involving schools, local community groups and media outlets.
In 2009, Padang experienced a M7.6 earthquake that caused significant damage, caused over 1000 fatalities, and generated a small tsunami. During that event, it was clear that building structures were not able to withstand the ground-shaking and that there were insufficient evacuation shelters and routes to safety. This experience has focussed BPBD Kota Padang to push for the enforcement of existing building specifications. In addition, progress has been made in the development of tsunami evacuation plans and signage. This includes the identification of existing buildings (such as schools, commercial buildings etc.) that could be used as temporary shelters in the case of a tsunami. Kota Padang have trialled a tsunami evacuation route on one of the main roads in the city. The road has a number of signs that provide a route to safety and the distances required to reach a safe elevation above sea level. A Blue Line has been painted on the road itself but this isn’t signposted at all – we even drove past it the first time!
After Padang, we made our way south to Pesisir Selatan where the BPBD has experienced a number of staff changes over the recent past. Pesisir Selatan has limited resources but it has a team and Bupati leader who are enthusiastic and very supportive of the our DRR philosophy. With further engagement, especially with other stakeholders, the BPBD will hopefully gain some program momentum.
We visited a KSB from Salido Saiyo village – a group that has been active for the last three years. They described their planning and preparedness activities that mainly focussed on tsunami. Meeting with KSB’s provides us with a real insight into the understanding of the locals at the grassroots. It is at this level that the success of the programs supported by BPBD can be seen. This KSB in particular were well aware of the hazards posed in the region, how they could help provide support for government programs, and where they would like further assistance. They were a group that were keen to learn from us about how NZ prepares for disasters and how effective learning in schools permeates through the community. All in all, there is a lot of potential for the successful implementation of DRR programs within Pesisir Selatan despite their lack of resources.