Indonesia: Disaster Preparedness on the Mentawai Islands

Indonesia is frequently affected by natural disasters. Numerous major earthquakes, heavy flooding and especially tsunamis (as in December 2004 and in West Java in 2007) repeatedly claim many human lives. Thousands of people are injured by these natural disasters.

Disaster preparedness classes in Indonesia.
Image: ASB Indonesia

In order to keep the number of victims to a minimum, the ASB conducts a large- scale disaster preparedness programme in Indonesia in order to better prepare the people in the particularly affected regions of the country and to minimize damage. This programme also includes the new project on the Mentawai islands.

Mentawai Islands

The Mentawai Islands are an Indonesian archipelago located south west of Sumatra. The islands are part of the province of West Sumatra and one of the regions most frequently affected by earthquakes and tsunamis. The islands of the archipelago are flat and partly covered by tropical rainforests. The seismic activity on the Mentawai islands further intensified following the earthquake and the tsunami in December 2004.

ASB assistance

Exercises in disaster preparedness, first aid and search and rescue were performed for teachers and school committees in 127 schools of Mentawai islands. Besides theoretical instruction, the focus was on practical exercises for an emergency as well as communication of knowledge to organize and conduct the civil protection exercises in schools. The ASB has provided and distributed adequate instruction materials to the schools so that the teachers and those responsible can pass on their knowledge to the students in a suitable manner.

Evacuation exercises have already been implemented with pupils and teachers in 72 schools. The exercises were directed by headmasters, teachers and school committees trained by ASB. A total of 232 teachers and 164 representatives of the school committees participated in the trainings and received the qualification to train other teachers in civil protection. In addition, the training of teachers offered the possibility to connect with each other and to improve the exchange of experiences.

In order to ensure a sustainable effect of the measures as well as to ensure that apart from the pupils also their families and the further population of the villages where the schools are located learn more about adequate behaviour in case of a natural disaster, the schools have signed commitment letters whereby they commit themselves to conduct regular evacuation exercises and to train their personnel in appropriate measures. Numerous schools also organize information events for interested citizens and form linkages with the persons responsible for the civil protection in their village or region.

The ASB will distribute materials to the schools which are designated to signpost escape routes distinctly and visibly so that the pupils can not only evacuate from the buildings safely in case of an emergency but also find a tsunami-safe assembly point.

ASB in Indonesia

The ASB has been working in Indonesia with three international and more than 50 local employees since 2006. One of the priorities of the work is to instruct teachers and pupils in the right behaviour in case of an earthquake or other natural disasters (cyclones, landslides, flooding). The ASB has trained in the past years about 500,000 primary school students as well as 5000 teachers in 2500 primary schools of the provinces of Central Java, West Sumatra and North Sumatra. Also following the eruption of Merapi volcano in 2009 ASB provided support to those affected.

Project Title: Strengthening of disaster preparedness capacities in 127 schools of Mentawai Islands/ Indonesia
Project Region: Menatwai Islands, West Sumatra, Indonesia
Target Groups: Provision of practical disaster preparedness information and methods to the primary school students of Mentawai Islands in order to minimize the number of deaths and injuries case of future disasters.
Project costs: 258,048.65 Euro
Funding: German Federal Foreign Office, own funds
Project duration: 1st September 2011 until 31st October 2012

More about ASB Foreign Aid