Getting early warning systems into place in Indonesia

Natural disasters are sadly too common in Lembang on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, as they are in countless villages across the nation. Over the years, landslides and fires have repeatedly claimed lives and destroyed village infrastructure in Lembang.

Now, with CWS support through the SOLIDARITAS program, community members and local government here are taking steps together to make Lembang a disaster-resilient village.

Yohanis Sampe Tola leads the local Disaster Risk Reduction Forum, and a recent decision made by government officials and volunteer Disaster Preparedness Team members is laying the groundwork to make that vision a reality. The Forum agreed on a new early warning system for Lembang that can be understood and used quickly by the whole community to make sure everyone is reached with warnings.

The system’s premise is simple and effective. If a landslide is imminent or happening, the church bell will sound continuously for five minutes. In case of fire, a traditional drum will sound continuously for five minutes.

“This is all part of the community’s collective efforts: identifying hazards and agreeing on simple early warning signals plus deciding on and marking evacuation routes and gathering points,” said Yohanis. “The faster and more accurate early warning is, the faster people will respond in case of a disaster. For the future, we hope our government will assist us with more sophisticated systems, too, like ground motion detectors for landslides.” And, for now, the steps the Lembang Forum members have taken are a key accomplishment in SOLIDARITAS, for which Yohanis and others are rightly proud.