Teaching disaster risk reduction at Indonesian schools

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is blessed with fertile soil and various natural resources, but concurrently, the country is prone to natural disasters, as it is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where numerous volcanoes and earthquakes occur.

Always remaining vigilant is a necessity if you live in Indonesia, which is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Some people in certain areas have even got accustomed to experiencing earthquakes, as they often occur.

During the period from January to mid-December last year, a total of 2,572 natural disasters had hit the country, leaving at least 4,821 people dead or missing, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

Of the total, 2,572, or 96.9 percent of the natural disasters, were hydrometeorological in nature, such as floods, landslides, and whirlwind, while 76, or 3.1 percent, were geological disasters, such as earthquakes.

In January 2019, Indonesia was hit by 366 natural disasters that claimed 94 lives or led to several going missing, injured 149, and affected and displaced 88,613 others.

In a bid to deal with natural disasters that occur with such frequency, Indonesia has set up specific institutions at the local and national levels. The country has established the BNPB and Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) at the local level as well as the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), among others.

Owing to its long-standing experience and professionalism, Indonesias disaster risk reduction model has been named the best practice during the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW) 2019 organized in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 4-8, 2019.

The Sixth HNPW is an annual event organized by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in cooperation with the Swiss Government aimed at facilitating networking among humanitarian actors.

UNOCHA Regional Office Representative in Bangkok Kristen Knutson pointed to the ease in cooperating with stakeholders in Indonesia owing to their high level of preparedness.

Indonesias experiences in handing disaster recovery in Palu and Donggala, Central Sulawesi Province, have been made lessons and model in disaster mitigation, according to information from the Indonesian Representative Office in Geneva recently.

On September 28, 2018, a magnitude-7.4 earthquake rocked Palu and several other districts in Central Sulawesi Province. The earthquake, which triggered a tsunami and liquefaction, claimed 3,397 lives and injured 4,426 others. A total of 69,139 homes were seriously damaged and 221,450 people were displaced. Material losses inflicted by the triple deadly disasters are estimated to reach more than Rp10 trillion.

Indonesia has learnt much from its past experiences, Operation Director of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) Budi Purnama noted during the discussion.

Besides this, Basarnas has demonstrated its capacity in every emergency response toward natural disasters and transportation accidents.

Executive Director of the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre Adelina Kamal highlighted Indonesias assertiveness in decision-making during critical moments of natural disasters and called on making it a model.

Meanwhile, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has called for the implementation of disaster education in every educational institution starting this year.

"I want this disaster education to be implemented, and it must start this year for the public and in schools, particularly in disaster-prone regions, up to the community level," Jokowi stated while speaking during a coordinating meeting on disaster mitigation 2019 in Surabaya on February 2, 2019.

The BNPB will coordinate with the education and culture minister for imparting disaster education at schools.

Several regional disaster mitigation offices (BPBD) have already started campaigning on disaster education for the public at large.

Earlier, Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy had revealed that character education will include material on student resilience to disasters, as Indonesia is vulnerable to natural disasters.

Some materials to be incorporated in character education will cover the dangers of drugs, safe schools, dangerous thoughts, traffic law awareness, anti-corruption, and disaster mitigation, among other things.

A senior researcher of the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry, however, suggested that disaster mitigation education should be part of the environmental lesson at schools since disaster and the environment are closely related.

"It will be very appropriate to include tsunami disaster mitigation education in an environmental lesson. It is a synergy and inseparable," Hendra Gunawan, chief researcher of the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry, stated on January 17, 2019.

In addition to education on disaster, President Jokowi also called for materialization of a disaster early warning system in Indonesia.

"An integrated early warning system, developed on the basis of recommendations from the results of researches, studies, and experts, must be used," President Jokowi noted in his address before some four thousand participants of the National Coordinating Meeting on Disaster Mitigation 2019.

"On this good occasion, Mr Doni (Monardo), as the BNPB chief, will coordinate with all relevant ministries and institutions to materialize the early warning system that we will take care of," the president stated.

He also called for preparing the maps of evacuation routes for disaster victims, similar to those of Japan.

Boards depicting early warning and evacuation route maps must be put in place this year, he stated.

He also ordered for routine simulations of disaster mitigation efforts, from the national to neighborhood levels, to make the public prepared to face natural disasters, particularly earthquakes and tsunamis.

Source: ANTARA News

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