Stories of Change

Surianti (center) during a recent response training.

With local NGO partners Gerbang Mas and Inanta, CWS joined Disaster Management Agency staff to reach more than 7,000 people in four villages through SOLIDARITAS with innovative approaches last year.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Mobilizing experts to prepare for disasters in Indonesia

Surianti Todingbua is an experienced nurse in a sub-district health center on Sulawesi island in eastern Indonesia. She is also a member of the Indonesian Red Cross North Toraja District Branch, and for the last two years she has been active in the SOLIDARITAS initiative, which is led by CWS partner Inanta.

You can see why Surianti is a natural fit to work on disaster preparedness and response management in the region. Unfortunately, this part of Indonesia is highly susceptible to disasters, especially landslides and flooding. CWS has been helping communities here to organize teams and committees to prepare for and mitigate the inevitable emergencies when they happen.

Surianti decided to join the Disaster Risk Reduction Forum in her area, and she is working with other community members to use the information they have on hand as they draft a Disaster Risk Analysis and Disaster Management Plan.

“I decided to join the Forum because I think it’s essential that all the different government agencies and other groups join with communities to ensure effective and well-coordinated disaster response,” Surianti said recently to some CWS staff. And then she continued, “I participated in various disaster
preparedness training sessions as well as simulation exercise, which gave me a great opportunity to practice what I had learned. Already, I can see a change in the way the community and the government view disasters and disaster risk management. Before SOLIDARITAS,” Surianti continued, “focus was only on recovery and reconstruction after a disaster. Now [we] pay more attention to analyzing hazards and on knowing about and mapping disaster risks.”

A focus in SOLIDARITAS, in addition to civil society and community engagement, is on improving knowledge, information access and human resources (capacity) among government workers, who are key duty bearers and responders, before a disaster even strikes. Also, the focus for disaster response is on improving cross-sectoral coordination among government agencies as well as the Indonesian Red Cross, the military and the police. The goal of course is to prevent small scale disasters, and mitigate their damage when possible. Equally important, too, is for everyone to be more informed about ways to respond, and then to respond quickly and efficiently, when larger disasters occur.