Stories of Change

Oktovina, left, facilitates a Focus Group discussion.

CWS efforts in Indonesia positively impacted more than 17,000 people in 16 communities last year.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Organizing and preparing to respond to a disaster

Oktovina Sari Andilolo is a Village Disaster Preparedness Facilitator in Lembang Bau village in South Sulawesi; and she came to hold this important position when she first heard about a disaster resilience initiative called DREAM.

“When I first heard about the DREAM project I was immediately interested. My neighbors and I talked about our experience with disasters in our village with staff from CWS and their local partner, Pusbinlat Motivator. In turn they shared more detailed information about climate change,” she says.

As Oktovina learned about the harm climate change is causing well beyond Lembang Bau, she decided to join a three-day program to learn more about the concept of a disaster prepared village, which the Indonesian government is promoting, plus the basics of disaster management. Topics ranged from disaster risk mapping and reduction activities, to risk mitigation and, failing that, disaster response. That includes basic First Aid, to start.

After completing the program, including practical facilitation skills training, Oktovina helped to form a Village Disaster Preparedness Team in Lembang Bau. The Team includes community members representing different groups and stakeholders in the village: women and youth, for example, plus some local government staff. Each team has a team leader, secretary and treasurer, plus sub-teams for logistics, health, shelter and field kitchen management and, if needed, evacuation.

The key Team role is complex: keep community members – their family, neighbors and friends – informed about hazardous areas; map and share evacuation routes; monitor heavy rains, when there is increased risk of landslides; and, importantly, mobilizes resources and respond during an actual emergency.

“After joining the Disaster Preparedness Team, I am much more aware of the situation in my village. Now I take time to stop and talk with neighbors and others about disaster risks in our community,” Oktovina says. Feeling confident that it is her role to share concerns around the village, Oktovina told a CWS colleague, “Now, when I need to speak at community meetings and in front of a lot of people, I feel confident to do so. I know there is still a lot more to learn about disasters and disaster management, but I am determined to keep learning to help make Lembang Bau a Disaster Prepared Village.”

If Oktovina has her way, her village and thousands of others across Indonesia will move forward from a past when they have only been victims in need of help to recover. With access to information, plus new knowledge, skills, teamwork and support from CWS and our partners, people will be more able to assess risks and anticipate harm, so they can be better prepared to reduce and mitigate harm and respond to disasters when they do happen.