• Do more with your content!Discover PreventionWeb Services
  • Indonesia: Making friends with disaster - How Bali is going disaster-ready through arts and culture

    Email sent!

    An email has been sent to the email addresses provided, with a link to this content.

    Thank you for sharing!


Indonesia: Making friends with disaster - How Bali is going disaster-ready through arts and culture

Source(s):  IDEP Foundation (IDEP)

Balinese flock to village gatherings especially with cultural theatre - like a famous ‘Cenkblonk’ puppetry show. As an awareness-raising tool for community disaster resilience this uniquely Balinese strategy taught an entire region to deal with natural catastrophe.

A hotspot for rafting tourism along the mighty Unda River, the Balinese Regency of Klungkung is also well known for flooding, landslides, earthquakes and tsunami-risk on east coast Bali - with natural disaster events more frequent, region-wide preparedness was urgently required to reach populations most at-risk.

Shadow-puppets came to the rescue. Puppet shows, as a communication tool for community education, are one of the most effective campaign delivery mediums for the unique cultures of Bali, using traditional wisdom in local language that people can relate to and regional jokes that makes them laugh-out-loud (LOL) – the messages delivered are easily understood and retained by rural village audiences. Tackling urgent readiness gaps the Community Disaster Management Group (CDMG), responsible for a population of 190 000 across Klungkung regency, partnered with Bali-based IDEP Foundation - an Indonesian non-government organisation expert in strengthening resilience - to design local contextual training for community-based disaster risk reduction (DRR).

Two disaster-prone rural and coastal villages were selected join the two-year pilot-program “Enhancing Community Resilience Through Disaster Risk Reduction Work in Bali” supported by Give2Asia, a US philanthropic group - delivered through UNESCO strategies of information, education and communication (IEC), integrating local customary knowledge and street theatre traditions with world-standard curriculums and disaster event simulations shaped by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030).

Focused on grassroots training and outreach programs, where government DRR activities rarely reach, IDEP Foundation worked side by side with the at-risk communities to strengthen previous disaster resilience training delivered in 2015 to deal with regular threats of flooding, rising sea levels, storm surge and tsunami. Socially-inclusive sessions in emergency response, first aid, evacuation management, landscape mapping for evacuation routes, and managing a Community Disaster Management Group as frontline for emergency response – resourced all participants from existing local associations: women’s and farmers groups, youth unions, and village security teams – volunteers known locally as pecalang.

Youth involvement was a key to the core program - of engagement and training activities conducted for elementary school students – together with adult volunteers, practicing emergency response and evacuation techniques, role-playing as disaster victims and evacuees. The community hall, or bale banjar in Balinese, starred as the assembly point and evacuation campsite - coordinated by volunteers through ‘walkie-talkie’, working as a unified disaster response team. Celebrating the successful mission, which wrapped up in late 2016, a regional disaster drill drew a crowd of more than one hundred and fifty villagers from across the district to join landslide and flood evacuation simulations, customarily referred to as ‘tangkas’ – sharing knowledge toward an ‘agile’ community.

Rural residents flocked into Tangkas village for a finale event - Bondres Celekontong Mas - traditional comedy theatre with a mix of drama, dance, and buffoonery. Hugely popular in Bali, all age groups revere communal stage show performances. Mixed with much laughter, key educational messages are easily digested by fun-loving audiences. Crowds swelled to several thousand later in the evening. Increasing social empowerment to foster a culture of disaster risk reduction, IDEP had invited the entire regency to enjoy a finale gala in Klungkung town - a bespoke shadow-puppetry performance by renowned, grand-master Wayang Cenkblonk at the city monument.

Originating in Java, this traditional Balinese show featured the puppetry of Indonesia’s most famous puppeteer-performer whose craft is high in demand across the nation, drawing huge public crowds and up to a million visitor hits on social media channels. “Any performance designed by Indonesian grand shadow-puppet royalty Cenkblonk becomes local legend,” explains IDEP Chief Exective, Ade Andreawan. “A well-known traditional icon, his work proves a very good strategy to deliver a positive message about disaster risk topics, shared locally into the future by all in attendance”. Used widely across India, street drama is an effective tool to implement DRR reaching fringe groups and schools, with the approach also gaining popularity in Nepal – both nations share a commonality with Balinese people, the Hindu religion and culture. “Folklore and local dialects are integral in making people recognize the true nature of their situation and effect behavioural changes,” states Good Practice, a report by Mercycorps on success of theatre to engage with youth and marginalised communities.

Klungkung had a lot of laughs that night, taking home new awareness of emergencies, evacuation and first response techniques in readiness for the real risks of increasing natural catastrophes on Bali’s east coast – staged in win-win, cultural context with disaster lessons they will never forget. 

Note to Editors

IDEP Foundation – ‘Idep selaras alam’, in Balinese meaning “the eye of our heart is interconnected with nature”  - is an Indonesian non-government organization (NGO) working since 1999 to “help people, help themselves” with donor-funded projects in  community development and disaster preparedness programs on Bali and across impoverished provinces of Indonesia.

IDEP has worked in crisis management operations since the 1998 Asian economic crash, focused on community resilience to increase self-sufficiency, and implemented disaster response training after the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated Aceh in 2004, and more recently, the Mentawai tsunami in 2011. IDEP trainers prepare local communities and tourism stakeholders for disaster preparedness and response across Indonesia.



Ade Andreawan – IDEP Foundation Executive Director

Tel no: +6281 338 085549 (Indonesia); email:

Avi Rembulan – IDEP Resource Development Coordinator

Tel no: +62 812 36350827; email:

Add this content to your collection!

Enter an existing tag to add this content to one or more of your current collections. To start a new collection, enter a new tag below.

See My collections to name and share your collection
Back to search results to find more content to tag

Log in to add your tags
  • Publication date 06 Feb 2017

Please note:Content is displayed as last posted by a PreventionWeb community member or editor. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of UNISDR PreventionWeb, or its sponsors. See our terms of use

CONTRIBUTED BY: A PreventionWeb user