Volcanos test Indonesia’s disaster management
The recent volcano eruptions have tested the progress of Indonesian disaster management reform which began in 2007 at the national level. There are still many outstanding issues, according to Jonatan A. Lassa, RSIS writing on the website of East Asia Forum.
First, the response system should target vulnerable populations, such as the elderly. In the Sinabung eruption, 22 of the 31 people who died in shelters were over the age of 50. Second, the approach to developing emergency protocol needs to be more scientifically rigorous. Volcano warning systems and preparedness scenarios should be based on a more comprehensive sample of known and unknown historic eruptions. Third, disaster preparedness and response scenarios should involve more informed and interested stakeholders. Fourth, and finally, there is an urgent need for the government to improve the quality of its risk communication strategy (including its efforts to communicate uncertainty) with respect to the people living in hotspots, as well as the public at large.
Jonatan A. Lassa is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.