Rano is a village high in the barren mountains of western Tana Toraja in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Because there is very little vegetation around Rano, seasonal rains make the area prone to landslides. Since Rano’s families are already vulnerable from poverty and lack of basic public services, like a clinic or government-organized emergency responders, the impact of natural disasters like landslides is quite devastating. To help Rano’s leaders change this situation, CWS partners with them to strengthen their resiliency to disasters in an initiative called Disaster Risk Reduction through Enhanced Adaptive Measures, or DREAM.
To start building resilience, early in 2018, in cooperation with the District Social Welfare Agency, Disaster Mitigation and Emergency Response Unit and a local church, CWS partnered with 48 community members to form a village Disaster Preparedness Team. Their task is to help reduce Rano’s disaster risks and help the village be ready to handle any emergencies they faced. To start, the team led an assessments and created an action plan that included an early warning system and mapped an evacuation route.
Since modern early warning systems about disaster are not common in the area, each family agreed to use a traditional system called Kentongan. Historically, the bamboo drum was used to warn people of dangers such as burning houses or burglary. Now it is used for natural disaster early warnings too. Once the team developed an evacuation plan and map, families were briefed on how to access it, and signs were made to lead people to one of the four evacuation sites. As a preventive / risk reduction measure, the team is mobilizing families to plant bamboo trees along riverbanks and palm trees along the village main road because their abundant root systems help reduce soil erosion and, potentially, landslides during the rainy season.
In October 2016, when a landslide hit Rano, most people just panicked and did not know how to react. “Everyone was running around, unsure of safe places to go. No one was sure of exactly what was happening either. Since no warning system existed, evacuation was unorganized”, Karaeng, the village Disaster Preparedness Team leader told us. Now, he notes families are informed and empowered to act by their evacuation plans.
The Team has led Rano to key changes in the 18 months they have been active. Now they plan to simulate an evacuation and maintain vigilance. Also, their successes have other communities talking. Others see what families are doing together in Rano and they want to be better prepared for disasters too.
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