In early March, 45 community leaders from five in Central Sulawesi villages started their community disaster preparedness networks by considering natural disaster threats in each of their villages. After discussing as many aspects of natural disasters they have experienced or heard about, the women and men in the room put their ideas for contingency action plans, including maps that showed, first and foremost, the location of helpful resources and assets in the village; but also evacuation gathering points and evacuation routes. Besides this, they outlined ideas for seasonal early warning protocols based on known weather risks and hazards.
Karaeng Pattola who, at age 60, has experience decades of weather-related disasters, large and small, chairs the Disaster Risk Reduction Forum and understands the importance of this multi-village network. “This Early Warning System and Contingency Action Plan outlines our basic response to future disasters based on our experience of the past”. When disasters like the 2016 earthquake have happened, Mr. Patolla and his neighbors were not prepared to respond locally. This was not because they were incapable; it’s just that they had not come together, with support, to think things through. “We had no idea where to go when the earthquake struck, or who we could go to for help. Everything happened so fast without any warning signs”.
Sadly, earthquakes and other big disasters will increasingly affect people across southeast Asia, and people will never be fully prepared to respond and cope. Fortunately, many governments, like Indonesia’s, are doing more to try to help people be better prepared. And, they are partnering with non-government organizations like CWS to do so. The Central Sulawesi village network is an example of the kind of help CWS can bring – not only to be more aware of ways to react for major natural disaster, but also to helps communities, especially farm families, adapt to changing and uncertain weather conditions, which are a slow onset disaster, really. Now may of the farmers with whom CWS team member work can adapt their farming ways to proactively address and cope with change. “This work we are doing with CWS is helpful to us for sharing valuable information with the public,” Mr. Patolla said, and his comment helps explain why CWS is happy to support communities in creating solutions and becoming more resilient to real, and potential, natural disasters.
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