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.

National DRR Month Event: Sorong, West Papua

StIRRRD team members and representatives from across StIRRRD districts attended the national DRR month event held in Sorong, West Papua on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 October.  The Monday morning consisted of an opening ceremony and speeches by dignitaries including an update on the BNPB forward work programme from Willem Rampangilei, Head of BNPB.

Traditional Dancing
Traditional dance at Opening Ceremony

During the afternoon, StIRRRD hosted a special session on DRR and international cooperation.  Chaired by StIRRRD UGM team members, two sessions were held with a focus on cooperation at the national level and international assistance with DRR implementation in the districts.  Presenters at the respective sessions included:

  • Session 1
    • Sumedi Andono Mulyo, Director of Disadvantaged Areas, Transmigration and Rural Areas, BAPPENAS
    • Richard Woods, Natural Hazards Risk Management Specialist, GNS Science
    • Lilik Kurniawan, Director Disaster Risk Reduction, BNPB
StIRRRD special session speakers.  Left to right: Lilik Kurniawan (BNPB), Richard Woods (GNS Science), Sumedi Andono Mulyo (BAPPENAS) and session host Tueku Faisal Fathani (StIRRRD).

Presentations from Pak Lilik (BNPB) and Pak Sumedi (BAPPENAS) discussed their respective DRR work programmes.  Of note, Pak Sumedi discussed the strong alignment between the StIRRRD programme and BAPPENAS work programme over the next few years.  In addition, he highlighted the potential for future collaboration on modelling the economic impact of disasters for cost-benefit analyses using existing New Zealand economic models.

  • Session 2
    • Akris Mohamad Yunus Fattah, Head of BPBD, Donggala
    • Selupati SH, Head of BPBD, Bengkulu
    • Drs Zainal Abidin, Head of BPBD, Sumbawa
    • Henry, BPBD Head of Prevention and Preparedness, Padang
StIRRRD special session speakers.  Left to right: Henry (BPBD Padang), Drs Zainal Abidin (BPBD Sumbawa), Selupati SH (BPBD Bengkulu), Akris Mohamad Yunus Fattah (BPBD Donggala) and session host Wahyu Wilopo (StIRRRD).

The presentations from BPBD in Donggala, Bengkulu, Sumbawa and Padang provided insights into the strengths and challenges that each district has faced during action plan implementation.On the morning of 24 October, StIRRRD director Teuku Faisal Fathani presented on lessons and good practice from the implementation of early warning systems to detect land movement.  Pak Faisal presented alongside the Chairman of Mat Peci, Usman Firdaus and Medi Herlianto, BNPB Director of Readiness.

Tueku Faisal Fathani (UGM – StIRRRD) presents on best practice early warning systems for land movement detection.


DRR action plan activities progressing well in Morowali, Central Sulawesi

As part of the coaching and mentoring phase, StIRRRD team members visited Morowali on 14 and 15 August.  This was a good opportunity to meet Pak Nafsahu, the new head of BPBD, and congratulate the district on graduating stage one of the StIRRRD programme.  On Monday morning, the team met with staff from BPBD to discuss action plan progress where Pak Nafsahu reiterated the strong support Morowali has for StIRRRD.  That afternoon the District Secretary was presented with a graduation certificate, commemorating Morowali’s graduation of StIRRRD phase one followed by a DRR training session for staff from many local government departments.

StIRRRD team members meet with BPBD staff
Morowali phase 1 graduation ceremony

Morowali has made significant progress on action plan activity implementation since the last visit in March, highlights include:

  • The implementation of a text based warning service partnering with BMKG, Telkomsel and Indosat. Morowali was the first district in Indonesia to pilot the implementation of this successful public-private initiative.
  • A disaster management plan was commissioned with the support of BNPB.
  • A district specific risk assessment has been conducted and is being reviewed by BNPB. This document specifically identifies the Matano Fault risk where the fault location is being used to inform spatial land use plan boundaries.
  • A response coordination facility has been erected on Sombori Island.
  • Multiple physical works, to reduce the impacts of flooding and coastal waves, have been constructed across the district.
StIRRRD team members discuss DRR activities at a secondary school in Bahadopi Village
Recent river work improvements to reduce flooding in Bahadopi village


At 10:08 am on Sunday 13 August, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake occurred off the coast of Sumatra, about 75km to the west of Kota Bengkulu (Figure 1). The earthquake occurred at a depth of around 35 km, and resulted in strong shaking in the Bengkulu and Seluma districts. The earthquake was felt as far away as Padang and South Sumatra but did not generate any tsunamis.

In North Bengkulu (the area closest to the quake) strong shaking was felt for about 10 seconds, causing some panic amongst locals. The most common response was to quickly move outdoors. Some minimal damage to buildings was observed, but there were no reports of casualties. The earthquake resulted in power outages in some parts of the district.

Bengkulu BPBD activated in response to the event, with staff undertaking field checks, and reporting for duty if a wider response was required. They were stood down later in the day.

Figure 1  Map showing the location of the earthquake and modelled shaking intensities. Source:

There is significant seismic risk for many communities on the island of Sumatra, and the districts involved in the StIRRRD program have included a number of activities in their DRR Action Plans to better understand and reduce this risk. StIRRRD alumni are also working on a range of other seismic risk reduction activities. For example, at the University of Bengkulu, Dr. M. Farid is working to understand and map liquefaction hazard; and Universitas Andalas (Padang) staff are trialing a method to retrofit un-reinforced brick buildings with wire mesh, to improve their ability to withstand seismic shaking.

Coaching and Mentoring in Bengkulu and West Sumatra

The StIRRRD team spent a busy week in early July, providing support and training for the districts in West Sumatra and Bengkulu provinces. A day each was spent in Seluma, Bengkulu City, Agam, Padang City and Pesisir Selatan. Each of these districts are at different stages on their journey towards reducing risk from disasters, and the visit enabled some honest conversations about the difficulties they face, as well as a chance to celebrate and learn from successes achieved to date.


Monday was spent in Seluma, which is facing challenges as the district tries to implement Action Plan activities.  It was discussed that improved coordination between agencies will help with improved implementation.  District BPBD staff are aware of this issue and it was reassuring that they were able to arrange a meeting with representatives from all the main local government agencies. The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Head of District, who expressed support for the StIRRRD project, on behalf of the Bupati. The Head of Parliament also attended, and gave an impassioned speech encouraging stakeholders to improve their coordination efforts, and to work together to improve the capacity of people in Seluma, so they can reduce the risk from disasters. The StIRRRD team will continue to through coaching and mentoring, and a community project designed to make better use of the tsunami shelter in the village of Rawa Indah is scheduled to commence later this year.

Commitment to the actions outlined in the Seluma DRR Action Plan was confirmed during the July visit, with the Head of BPBD (Pak Azwardi), Deputy Head of District (Pak Rosyikin), and Bu Yudhy Harini Bertham from University of Bengkulu signing the document


DRR activities in the city of Bengkulu are being well coordinated by the district BPBD office. They have implemented a tsunami “Blue Line” project and included it in an evacuation simulation for schools. Work is planned for 2018 to further implement blue lines along the city’s coastline, and to improve evacuation routes and upgrade signage. The StIRRRD team, including an expert from the University of Bengkulu (UNIB), spoke with invited stakeholders about the need to involve local communities in future blue line projects, to help raise awareness and empower community initiatives.

Tsunami Safe Zone signs and Blue Line, Bengkulu City

Representatives at this meeting also discussed the concept of a ‘lifelines’ group, comprising agencies which provide critical infrastructure services to the community (e.g. water, electricity, transport). It seems that the good progress on DRR being made in Bengkulu could be enhanced by setting up a similar group of agencies, which would work together to better understand the likely impact of hazards on their own assets and services, and on the other utilities that they rely on.


Wednesday was spent in Agam, where the local BPBD office hosted a workshop with a wide range of agencies involved in DRR work. This included representatives from the private sector (banks, forestry and electricity), NGO’s such as Jamari Sakato and a micro-loan program for women, university staff from Padang and Agam, ‘disaster-ready’ journalists, Police, several local government agencies, the tourism office, and a number of sub-district heads.

The workshop covered a range of topics, including a ‘lifelines’ group, and demonstrated the widespread support for DRR work in Agam, from political leaders, local government and the private sector, down to the village level.  The approach taken in Agam starts from the ‘bottom’ and work up – i.e. ensure that well-educated communities and local government staff are able to take the initiative and implement their own DRR programs, in a coordinated and timely manner. A key message that was re-iterated by several speakers is that DRR is everyone’s responsibility, not just BPBD.

Pesisir Selatan

On Thursday morning, a meeting was held with the Bupati, Head of Parliament and the District Secretary.  Although the district is very scenic and has a wide range of natural resources, it is also vulnerable to disasters. There is only 1 road linking Painan to Padang City, and this traverses some difficult terrain and can be easily cut by landslides or flooding. The district leaders are keen on further development, and requested help to advocate to central government for additional inland roading networks. These would also allow evacuation from low-lying land into the hills.

A view of Pesisir Selatan’s coastline, from Cubadak Island

Several OPD agencies, including public health, environment, water resources and social affairs also reported on their work programs during this meeting. They are committed and have a good understanding of the challenges they face, but have inadequate resources, and there is limited coordination between agencies on DRR activities.  Further work will be required to improve the capacity of people in Pesisir Selatan, to reduce risk from disasters.


Friday morning was spent with Padang BPBD, who were involved in the StIRRRD project as a pilot program. To address tsunami risk, the local BPBD office has committed enthusiastically to the ‘Blue Line’ concept, which was originally developed in Wellington, New Zealand. Initiatives in the project include:

  • Large-scale maps showing tsunami hazard zones and the location of buildings which can be used as vertical evacuation shelters.
  • Engaging a consultant to determine future locations for blue lines across the city.
  • Technical design specifications for signs and the lines themselves.
  • Working with other agencies to add additional lighting so the lines can be seen at night.
  • A comprehensive socialisation program, with specific actions to enable risk reduction activities in various social settings, including homes, villages, schools, campuses, tutor’s buildings, mosques, hospitals, markets, malls and hotels. They also use TV and radio to disseminate information.
  • As part of this program, BPBD staff are visiting individual homes, and helping them to make their own plan for a tsunami. Once trained, the household receives an information sticker to put on a window, and a record of the visit is made (see image).
Log book recording visits by BPBD staff to individual households

This visit highlighted some excellent DRR initiatives which are underway, as well as challenges some districts are facing. Significant and rapid progress is being made in some locations, while others are struggling to make headway. Key lessons from this visit for successful DRR implementation include:

  • Commitment and support from political leaders – not just words, but the backing to implement a range of activities, and to ensure that the responsible agencies coordinate and communicate regularly with each other.
  • A ‘DRR champion’ who has some level of seniority and respect, who has the passion and ability to plan and then implement appropriate activities, and who can work well with other agencies.

May a shaky month for Central Sulawesi

At 4.10pm on 24 May 2017, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake occurred off the coast of South Bungku District, Morowali.  The earthquake is thought to have occurred on the Matano Fault at a depth of around 10km.  Several felt aftershocks have occurred since the initial earthquake.

Shaking was felt strongly in Morowali with reports of people running from houses.  Subsequent media reports note that at least 20 homes were damaged, most lightly, with one house severely damaged in Siumbatu Village, South Bungku District.

Matano 5.7 10km 24-05-2017
Map showing the location of the earthquake and indicative shaking intensities.  Source:

Only five days later, at 9.35pm on 29 March, the province was again shaken, this time by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake centred 38km from the village of Poso.  This earthquake was strongly felt in Poso and according to media reports, generally felt in most parts of Central Sulawesi.  Media reports indicate that some buildings were damaged in Poso from this earthquake:

poso earthquake
Map showing the location of the earthquake and indicative shaking intensities.  Source:

Matano Fault and StIRRRD

As part of the StIRRRD programme, staff from the Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) are working with Morowali BPBD and Action Plan partners to improve knowledge and raise awareness of the risk associated with the Matano Fault.  This fault creates a significant hazard for Morowali, cutting right through the district and extending offshore (see figure below).  BMKG, Indonesia’s earthquake monitoring agency,  estimate that the Matano Fault can generate earthquakes up to around magnitude 7.3.

The Morowali DRR Action Plan, being led by the Morowali BPBD, includes a project to undertake more research on the Matano Fault and the fault’s associated risks.  This information will inform planning and development in areas close to the fault and help inform future public education.

Map of Morowali District and the Matano Fault.  Source: Universitas Gadjah Mada.

DRR Action Plan Progress in Donggala

As part of the StIRRRD team’s ongoing monitoring and coaching role, during March we visited all districts to gauge their respective progress and where possible, provide support and advice for building on the initial success of the program. In this blog we describe some of the highlights from our visit to Donggala, Central Sulawesi.

Welcome back to Donggala

As the StIRRRD programme moves from phase 1 (plan development and training) to phase 2 (implementation and monitoring), districts are presented with a certificate and small NZ-themed gift to recognise their progress.  To mark this occasion, BPBD arranged a ceremony to welcome the StIRRRD team back to Donggala and provided a rousing rendition of the Indonesian national anthem as well as BNPB’s national disaster theme song.

Action Plan Progress

During the morning of 20 March, a workshop was held which included the Secretary Head of District, emergency management, public works and other local government staff to discuss implementation progress in Donggala.  During this session, it was clear the district has made good progress on policy reviews which now include DRR objectives, while further opportunities to align existing socialisation programmes with Action Plan activities were also identified.

Members of the Donggala and BPBD and the StIRRRD team

An update of Donggala’s 2010 building regulations has been conducted and were re-published in 2015.  The new regulations now require that new buildings are designed to be ‘earthquake resilient’.  The local government spatial planning office is undertaking a programme for the implementation of ‘earthquake resilient buildings’ in both existing and new development areas.

At the workshop, senior representation from a range of stakeholders, identified the potential for further synergy between work programmes where this was previously not recognised.  For example, the local government Head of Social Agency has identified planned programmes that will now be aligned with BPBD’s socialisation activities.  In addition, the local government Head of Environment Agency provided substantial discussion on the probable exacerbation of flooding and impact on water resources from mining activities.  These discussions provide a strong platform to align existing work programmes with Action Plan activities in Donggala.

Action Plan Forward Plan

During the afternoon, the Action Plan and discussion points from the morning’s workshop were discussed in detail with the emergency management office; as custodians of the Action Plan.  At this session, it was important to have not only the Head of BPBD but each BPBD Division Head, Readiness and DRR, Logistics, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction and BPBD staff to review the Action Plan.

Heads of local government departments and stakeholders discuss Action Plan progress

Coaching & Mentoring – West Sumatra

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.

StIRRRD Team present the Bupati of Agam (Pak Indra Catri) with an award commemorating DRR initiatives and collaboration.

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.

StIRRRD team and BPBD staff in Tiku sub-district, Agam discussing tsunami preparedness

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!

One of the tsunami evacuation signs along the road in Kota Padang. A series of these signs lead up to the Blue Line – the location considered safe from tsunami inundation.
The Blue Line painted on the road in Kota Padang. Unfortunately, there are not yet any signs installed, which makes the line difficult to spot, particularly at night 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.

A successful meeting with the KSB from Salido Saiyo, Pesisir Selatan

Coaching and Mentoring – Bengkulu

A StIRRRD team has been in Seluma and Bengkulu City in Bengkulu Province, as part of the ongoing implementation of the BPBD-led DRR actions plans, as the project moves from phase 1 (plan development and training) to phase 2 (implementation and monitoring). A small ceremony celebrating the collaboration and support of the districts during phase 1 was held, with a certificate and token of appreciation presented to the district heads. The team also met the parliament of each district to discuss on-going support of the BPBD disaster risk reduction measures.

Award Ceremony
StIRRRD Team present the Mayor of Bengkulu City with an award commemorating DRR initiatives and collaboration.

The team met with the BPBD, and other government agencies, in separate meetings, to discuss progress, reaffirm commitment to the Action Plan Initiatives, and discuss implementation options.

BPBD Discussions
StIRRRD team meeting with Bengkulu City BPBD staff

In October 2016, Bengkulu City BPBD implemented a tsunami “Blue Line” project and included it in an evacuation simulation for schools. Unfortunately, the contractor used a water-based paint and the line has quickly faded. However, the BPBD are committed and have budget to implement more blue lines along the coast, improve evacuation routes, involve the local communities to raise awareness and upgrade signage.

Blue Line
Tsunami Blue Line, Bengkulu City
Tsunami Sign
Tsunami Safe Zone signs, Bengkulu City

In Seluma the team met with the disaster volunteers of Rawa Indah village, where a vertical tsunami evacuation shelter has been constructed. Despite not yet officially taking control of the shelter, the locals are using it for weddings, mother’s groups and other social occasions and ceremonies. The community obviously value this structure, and are making some effort to keep it clean and tidy. For minimal cost, it would be possible to make this structure more suitable for community use. This part of the Seluma coastline is a flat broad plain, and the villages are susceptible to flooding, tsunami and storm surge events. The evacuation shelter may therefore also be useful during other disaster events.

Rawa Indra
Discussions with locals at the vertical tsunami evacuation shelter Rawa Indah

Seluma has limited resources but despite this, it is trying to implement its Action Plan, and will benefit greatly from the coaching and mentoring provided by the StIRRRD team over the next year or so to gain some momentum. In contrast, Kota Bengkulu has gathered momentum with a number of initiatives currently underway, and planned in the current financial year.

It is vital for the sustainability of the program that local universities are involved in providing expert advice as well as student resources as part of their community service. In both Seluma and Bengkulu City, the University of Bengkulu (UNIB), particularly the Disaster Research Centre, is providing this key support role. A number of initiatives are likely to be led by, or involve UNIB, including development of local building clinics, hazard education in schools and tsunami education and socialisation. UNIB will also be conducting geophysical and geotechnical research projects that aim to improve understanding of natural hazards in the region.

Vision Matauranga visit to Agam

A recent GNS Science project involved a small team of Maori community leaders visiting the Agam Regency in West Sumatra, Indonesia.

The team are welcomed to Agam Regency, with the pasambahan dance ceremony

The purpose of the journey was to exchange cultural knowledge and experience of natural disasters between representatives of Maori and the local Minangkabau people of Agam . Maori participants included Tui Warmenhoven and Jean Palmer of Ngāti Porou and Robyn Rauna, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri all from the Gisborne District, and Joe McLeod of Te Pringa O Te Awaikairangi in Lower Hutt. Accompanying the visitors were Phil Glassey and Julian Thomson from GNS Science, Dr Megan Collins, a musicologist who has extensive knowledge of the local Minangkabau culture indigenous to Agam, along with Drs Esti Anantsari and Arry Retnowanti from University of Gadja Mada (UGM).

After a traditional ceremonial greeting by the Regent, the first location of our visit was the Tiku community on the Agam coast. The people here depend largely on fishing for their livelihoods. They are also subject to a serious tsunami hazard as the coastline faces a major plate boundary fault.

P1210202We were introduced to a group of local women who had taken steps towards self-empowerment and community resilience through micro businesses related to fishing. This had different aspects, including economic, educational and disaster planning elements.


The women showed us how they had developed dried seafood products, which they sell under the label, ‘Beautiful Coral’, that can be stored long term which  added value to the fish that were caught by the men in the community.


This local lady lived nearby. Although her husband died some years ago, as a couple, they had purchased land together, which she has now been able to develop with the assistance of  Jemari Sakato, a local NGO supported by Oxfam. They gave her some chickens and a couple of goats. Over time she has expanded her livestock and, along with selling coconuts and caring for the neighbours cows, she has become financially independent. She is able to afford micro-insurance that protects her livelihood in case of a natural disaster.

P1210299There were many cultural treats for our group during our visit. Here is a performance of the Shi’a Islamic music called Tambuah Tasa (bass and snare drum ensemble), from Bukik Malintang, with dancers from the randai theatre group ‘Santan Batapih’. The drumming  performance was incredibly powerful.

P1210376Next we headed inland and stopped at a village that had been designed and built in a Sumatran jungle clearing to house people who had been impacted by a large earthquake in 2009. There were roughly 120 identical houses, along with a mosque and community centre. The village is more or less ready, but yet to be occupied.

P1210545We then travelled on to Lake Maninjau. This is a dormant volcanic crater (caldera).

P1210500The people living on its shores rely on fishing also. The photo shows the nets used for intensive fish farming.

P1210417Because the sides of the crater are so steep, they are subject to many landslides that endanger the locals. This is one that we drove across and must have been very recent. The road had not yet been properly repaired.

P1210422These signs indicate evacuation routes down to the lake shore in case of an emergency.

P1210678From the lake we made our way to to Canduang and a traditional house called a Rumah Gadang, where we had been invited to stay the night. The traditional architecture of the roof is typical of the Padang area. The points represent buffalo horns from a legend in which a buffalo saved the local minangkabau people from invasion by the Javanese.


In Canduang  we were again welcomed with by the Pasambahan dance, which this time included silek martial arts, demonstrated by senior masters. The two men were sparring with knives.


We shared a community meal inside the big house, which belongs to Mrs Zulharty and her extended family.


Afterwards, the team where treated to a performance of Saluang jo Dendang (flute and voices). Megan Collins also gave a performance on the rabab Pasisia Selatan (fiddle from the South Coast) singing the opening of a kaba narrative that was much appreciated by the local audience.

P1210633The Rumah Gadang is a meeting space with  several bedrooms at the back. Communities in this area are based on small extended family units that live in each Rumah Gadang, and the family structure is matrilineal. Women have the main authority in the family and the oldest woman in the family owns the house. Her daughters each have a bedroom allocated and when they marry, their husband moves in to the house with them.

P1210697Here Jean and Robyn sit with the matriarch of the household , who is highly respected and is 92 years old.

P1210971Our next visit was up on to the slopes of Mount Marapi, a volcano that actively threatens surrounding settlements. In this photo it is seen from the town of Bukittinggi.

P1210705We were welcomed to Lassi village, on Mount Merapi, by the local disaster management group ‘Marapi Alert’ who demonstrated their katentong bamboo ‘clappers’. These make a very loud drumming noise when the handle is pushed back and forth, and are used as an alarm system to relay warnings of volcanic activity from village to village. Cellphones are also used.

P1210732Edi is the local co-ordinator for disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities in Lassi village. Here he explains the local volcanic hazards and about some of the projects that are used to develop local resilience and safety.

P1210782A powerful display of traditional martial arts from two teenage girls accompanied by boys playing the Tambuah Tasa drums at Sungai Pua, Mount Merapi.


Mr Datuak Mangkato Saripadois a master craftsman of the West Sumatran talempong gongs. His family has been making these classical instruments for nine generations. exports them all over Indonesia and Malaysia.

P1210952Mount Singgalang is the second large volcano that looms over Bukittinggi.

P1210984On our final day we visited Institute Seni Indonesia (ISI) Padang Panjang, a Tertiary Arts Institute. We learnt how performers of local music include stories of natural disasters that give information about the particular impacts they had on the lives of people. These stories are even woven into modern pop music and include recent events such as the damaging Padang earthquake of 2009 and flash floods in Kambang in 2011.  Tui Warmenhoven and Jean Palmer give a talk on how knowledge of natural disasters in embedded in Maori traditional stories of the creation of Aotearoa.

Mrs Susasrita Loravianti, Mr Rafiloza from ISI and Megan Collins gave talks about West Sumatran music and dance, indigenous knowledge and disasters.


In this photo L to R: Tui Warmenhoven, Jean Palmer, Robyn Rauna and Joe McLeod



Strengthened Indonesian Resilience – Reducing Risk from Disasters

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