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Disaster Relief

National disaster mitigation agency highlights need for shelters in South East Asia

  •  March 03, 2016
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There have been multiple warnings of the tsunami issued by the Indonesian, Thai and Australian national authorities after the US Geological Survey has reported a 8.2 magnitude quake at 12.49pm GMT on Wednesday 2nd March near the southwest coast of Sumatra island in Indonesia.

Indonesia issued alerts for West Sumatra, North Sumatra and Aceh, according to the National Meteorological Agency. Australian authorities have called off the tsunami warning and Thai National Disaster Warning Centre has yet to confirm their advice. While reports from the ground in Indonesia suggested that damage from the earthquake was limited, the tsunami threat has led to evacuations in Sumatra.

“The quake exposed gaps in the systems put in place to prevent a disaster similar to the Indian Ocean quake 11 years ago” – said Zulfiatno, the head of disaster management agency in Padang, a Sumatra island port city of around one million people who felt the quake.

According to Thomson Reuters article, the early-warning system using buoys and sea-level gauges to measure the force and speed of water movement introduced soon after the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster in 2004 have failed to warn the national disaster mitigation centres of massive waves.

Despite disaster prevention situation improving since the incident and residents of the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", a highly seismically active zone where different plates on the earth's crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes, have better understanding of how to evacuate safely, there are not enough evacuation routes or shelters in Padang - shelters capacity are only for 200,000 people.

According to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, the buoys, which cost around $2.3 million a year to maintain, were damaged and the authorities lacked funding to fix them, despite efforts to avoid natural disaster.

The same area was badly affected an Indian Ocean tsunami most recently in 2004. There was a 9.1 magnitude earthquake 160km (99 miles) off the western coast of northern Sumatra, resulting in a tsunami. The incident resulted in 230,000 people killed across 14 countries, including Thailand. 

In light of the above, the Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF) would like to request your recommendation on solutions that support humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts in the region and beyond. There is an opportunity to discuss such innovations at the upcoming 2nd annual AIDF Asia Summit taking place on 21-22 June 2016 in Bangkok and 8th annual AIDF Global Disaster Relief Summit taking place on 7-8 September 2016 in Washington DC. 

If you would like to contribute to the discussion on how to improve aid delivery and emergency response or share innovative solutions that focus on building resilience to disasters, please get in touch with aokeeffe@aidforum.org

Image Source: NOAA

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