The islands off the western coast of Sumatra sit above one of the world’s most vulnerable seismic regions. As the closest land masses to the fault dividing the Australian-Indian and Eurasian Continental Plates, earthquakes are a constant threat. Coupled with this is the high potential for earthquake-generated tsunamis in the region. 

Since 2006, SurfAid has implemented two separate Emergency Preparedness (E-Prep) programs.  Communities need to plan and prepare before disasters. They need to know how to respond if affected by a disaster, and they need to identify their key strengths in order to quickly recover from the affects of natural disaster.
 

Our first E-Prep program was a three-year, community-based, disaster risk management program funded by the Australian Government through AusAID’s Australia-Indonesia Partnership. This program was designed to improve both village and district disaster management systems so that communities in isolated regions became better prepared for natural disasters. Being better prepared equates directly to saving lives (as demonstrated in the October 2010 Mentawai tsunami, where only nine lives were lost in communities in which SurfAid had implemented this program).




In the Mentawai Islands and Nias Island, communities have predominantly identified earthquakes and tsunamis as the main risks they face. However, this program addressed all potential hazards including floods, landslides, tropical storms, forest fires and health epidemics.

E-Prep was known as Program Siaga Bencana in the 55 target coastal villages (33 villages in Nias and 22 villages in the Mentawai Islands), and was designed around three key components:

1. Community Awareness Raising   2. Community Disaster Contingency Planning and Capacity Building   3. Disaster Mitigation

In 2009, the New Zealand Aid Programme funded a smaller E-Prep program (called the E-Prep Roadshow) which was focused on the coastal communities of Agam and Pasaman Barat in West Sumatra.

This program focused on raising awareness, disaster risk mitigation through community-based planning, and the establishment of evacuation planning and disaster management in schools. It was community-focused and provided hands-on support to communities and their local government to assist with disaster planning.

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