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Strengthening Indonesian Communities through Disaster Training
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Red Cross
 
September 8, 2006

Over the past several months, the people of Indonesia have endured a series of unrelenting catastrophes. The Yogyakarta earthquake on May 27, the earthquake and tsunami in southern Java on July 27 and a string of tremors from Sulawasi to Sumatra all offer signs of continued tectonic activity.

Volunteers with the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia, PMI) participate in Integrated Community-Based Risk Reduction Program training in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. (Photo Credit: Bonnie Gillespie/American Red Cross)
Volunteers with the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia, PMI) participate in Integrated Community-Based Risk Reduction Program training in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. (Photo Credit: Bonnie Gillespie/American Red Cross)

In the northern province of Aceh, where the earthquake and tsunami of December 2004 unleashed massive destruction, disaster management teams from the American Red Cross and the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia, PMI) are leading the way in equipping and training communities to respond to future disasters, as part of the Tsunami Recovery Program.

“Disasters like landslides, earthquakes and even tsunamis are happening very frequently, not only in Aceh, but in all parts of Indonesia.” said M.A. Halim, disaster management expert for the American Red Cross in Aceh. “Many people in Indonesia have not received training in disaster awareness and preparedness, so their lives are at risk.”

Partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Movement) have teamed-up in Aceh to support PMI in a multi-faceted risk reduction program to help raise awareness of disasters among vulnerable communities. These efforts include utilizing early warning systems, strengthening PMI’s capacity in preparedness activities, and implementing the Integrated Community-Based Risk Reduction Program (ICBRR).

A proven method of disaster management, the ICBRR was refined and adapted for use in Aceh by American Red Cross disaster management experts. Building on PMI’s existing disaster preparedness programs, new strategies such as ICBRR offer an expanded and integrated approach to community-based disaster management.

Saidur Rahman, an American Red Cross disaster management expert in Indonesia, monitors students during a field activity as part of the recent ICBRR training in Aceh. (Photo Credit: Bonnie Gillespie/American Red Cross)
Saidur Rahman, an American Red Cross disaster management expert in Indonesia, monitors students during a field activity as part of the recent ICBRR training in Aceh.
(Photo Credit: Bonnie Gillespie/American Red Cross)

“When we designed the program, we worked together with PMI, Movement partners, teachers, community members, and local governments. Everyone realized that this type of integrated approach is necessary to make the program sustainable,” said Saidur Rahman, an American Red Cross disaster management expert in Indonesia.

Recently, thirty PMI volunteers from Aceh took part in a five-day ICBRR course designed by the American Red Cross and PMI. Participants learned fundamental disaster management practices and community-engagement methodologies, and they put their new skills to work through field exercises and community discussions.

“Already, we found there is enthusiasm in the communities for preparedness programs,” said Ansari Muhammed, an ICBRR participant and PMI volunteer from Aceh Besar. “The American Red Cross and PMI have an incredible relationship that is helping to make trainings like the ICBRR possible.”

After completing their training, PMI volunteers, like Muhammed, will help facilitate the formation and equipment of Community Disaster Management Committees in targeted villages. These committees, composed of local residents, will collaborate with PMI to prepare their villages for disasters through activities like mapping potential hazards, creating evacuation plans, mobilizing local resources, and leading preparedness activities in schools.

ICBRR Program trainees work with a community member in Tibang village to create a visual map of their community and potential risks. (Photo Credit: Bonnie Gillespie/American Red Cross)
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ICBRR Program trainees work with a community member in Tibang village to create a visual map of their community and potential risks.
(Photo Credit: Bonnie Gillespie/American Red Cross)

PMI and the American Red Cross will also assist targeted communities in creating local rapid response teams to maintain an early warning system radio network and other tools in emergency disaster response.

As its disaster management programs will grow exponentially in the coming months, the American Red Cross is supporting PMI in leading disaster preparedness activities in 150 villages throughout Aceh province, aimed to benefit more than 200,000 people.

“Indonesians trust PMI and its Red Cross partners, so through PMI we can empower communities to be ready,” said Muhammed. “There will be another disaster in Aceh, and we need to be prepared.”



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