Category Archives: Tsunami vertical evacuation

Initiating Tsunami Awareness Community Engagement, Rawa Indah, Seluma

The StIRRRD team was in Rawa Indah, Seluma, Bengkulu Province to initiate a tsunami awareness community project. Rawa Indah is a village of about 2500 people located on the broad coastal plain of Seluma and is at risk from tsunami, with no nearby high ground suitable for evacuation. In 2014, BNPB (the National Emergency Management Agency), with the assistance of international development aid and the National Public Works, built a 16-m high tsunami shelter near the village. Responsibility for the shelter has only recently been passed to the local emergency management agency, Seluma BPBD. Little or no work to improve community awareness of tsunami hazard, possible natural warnings or the function of the shelter has been undertaken, and the Seluma BPBD do not have the capacity to maintain the shelter or carry out extensive consultation. As a result, the condition of the shelter has deteriorated.

Rawa Indah Tsunami Sheleter

This initial visit (27 Feb – 1 Mar 2018) of the StIRRRD team was to get to know the people, gain an understanding of their current level of tsunami awareness, and help them to understand the risk associated with this significant hazard.

Rawa Indah Program Sosialisasi Tsunami

Ultimately, the community will develop their own evacuation plan and develop ongoing tsunami awareness centred around better use of the tsunami shelter for village activities. Students from the UNIB (University of Bengkulu) undertook a survey with more than 100 residents, to gauge tsunami awareness and preparedness. With the help of the local Red Cross (PMI), BPBD and UNIB, the team spent a day in the local school discussing hazards, tsunami, preparedness and action with 300 school children as well with the teachers. UNIB also built, and bought with them, a tsunami wave model tank which demonstrates tsunami formation and potential impacts.

Rawa Indah School Visit 1Rawa Indah School Visit 2

Rawa Indah Tsunami Tank Demo

University Gadjah Mada (UGM) flew an aerial survey and took video of the village surrounds.

Rawa Indah Coastal Plain

A good relationship has been established with the head of the village Pak Rubimanto, and he and his family, and the villagers generously hosted members of the team for 3 nights. Village leaders are extremely keen to be involved and want to utilise the shelter as best they can, and instigate other awareness and preparedness initiatives that the StIRRRD team will help facilitate.

Rawa Indah Village Head

It is intended that nearby villages with a similar risk from tsunami will also benefit from this project, as it will provide a template for the development of other evacuation plans. By working closely with BPBD and PMI, it is anticipated that the capacity of these agencies to assist other villages will improve.

Phase 2 of the engagement in April 2018 will involve some workshops and meetings with key village groups and responsible agencies and continued engagement with the school. It is also planned to hold an information drop-in session in the tsunami shelter on a Saturday, where the draft tsunami plan can be discussed, followed by a movie night. The third phase, later in the year will include a whole of village evacuation simulation and a repeat questionnaire survey.

Seluma – observing hazard and risk issues in the field – by Kate Crowley

As part of the DRR Action Plan workshop held in Seluma, 25–26 August 2015, we had a half-day field visit organised by the local emergency management office (BPBD). It was an opportunity for them to show some of the hazard and risk issues they face. Our party consisting of local government staff and university researchers, set off from Pasar Tais just after 8 am and travelled towards Pasar Seluma on the coast. Soon the tarmac road ran out and gave way to a rolling dirt track worn to rubble, which took us through a cross section of Indonesian life from the bustling town to the gentle padi fields. But the watery green terraces are slowly being eaten by groves of palm oil. Busy villages line the road, hinting at the thousands of people who live in this area near the coast. Initially hidden by the palms a great expanse of beach opens out. Here, we are provided an informative presentation by the head of the Preparedness section of the BPBD, Aziman. He describes how they have recently mapped the tsunami hazard in this region and will be using this map in risk reduction planning going forwards.


He expresses his concerns that although the national government have built a tsunami shelter, it can hold only 3,000 people. There are many villages that line the 70 km of exposed coast of Seluma and he estimates that they would need 10 tsunami shelters to sufficient provide a safe refuge for them all. The drive from Pasar Tais to the beach is across broad flat coastal plain, which makes tsunami evacuation challenging. Vertical evacuation is a sensible option, but the lack of multi-storey buildings means that purpose built structures, although expensive, are the only option.

Following a ‘bread crumb’ trail of tsunami evacuation signs our dusty convoy travelled on to the purpose built tsunami shelter.


Exploring this large structure it becomes clear that it is purpose built. It is a solid, open structure and a ramp and broad stairs enable those who are frail, young or disabled to access the higher floors. Toilets are provided on the third floor and solar panels are in place to provide lighting at night. This is an impressive undertaking, following a national standard and is very similar to the one observed in Kota Bengkulu.


However, the local emergency managers are still waiting for an official handover of the building from the national government before they can start using the building and implementing their community awareness plans. The building could be used as a local community centre, a market, or even a school and this would enable the community to become familiar with the structure and put it to good use.

Click the links here for a videos of a similar shelter in Kota Bengkulu, under construction and finished.

The aim of this second phase is to support the local community to be resilient, enabling them to identify the warning signs of a tsunami and know where to go and when. This outreach is aligned with support for their livelihoods under the “Resilient Village” government program.  It is a holistic approach that aims to improve the lives of those living in the area now and in the future.


Tsunami is not the only hazard that impacts this area. The workshop participants have also identified floods, earthquakes and landslides. Participants noted that they are used to the frequent small earthquakes that shake the surrounding countryside, and they rank earthquakes as the biggest threat. The fear of ‘the large one’ is real.

Our final stop demonstrates the power of a frequent and rapid onset hazard – flooding. We visit a small village that last month woke to find devastation on their door step. Overnight heavy rainfall upstream, in the “dry” season, caused the near-by wide and shallow river to swell and overtop its banks. Flood waters up to 4 m in depth swept through the palm oil plantation and three villages were flooded. Despite the flood occurring rapidly, over only 2 hours, no one was hurt but many lost their belongings.

The field trip provided an insight into this districts progress towards resilience. Just like the road we travelled together today, the path of disaster risk reduction is at times rough and slow but the journey is always worth it.