Canadian Red Cross supports launch of early warning system in Aceh
The Canadian Red Cross is partnering with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Spanish and Australian Red Cross to support the establishment of an early warning communication system. This emergency system will significantly improve the ability of the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia) and tsunami-affected communities to respond to future disasters.
The project, led by the Indonesian Red Cross will cover the entire province of Aceh, with its Banda Aceh chapter providing a vital link between the Indonesian government’s early warning technology and potentially vulnerable communities.
“When an earthquake occurs, the period of time we have to warn communities at risk is very limited. We are using the technology available to ensure that vulnerable communities have a system in place to alert them when a natural disaster strikes. The early warning system has the capacity to make a huge difference in terms of saving lives,” says Canadian Red Cross disaster preparedness manager Shesh Kafle.
A VHF (Very High Frequency) and HF (High Frequency) radio base station has been installed at the Banda Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Red Cross. The early warning system (EWS) is linked by radio with the Indonesian Red Cross national headquarters in Jakarta, which is in turn in close touch with government disaster monitoring agencies. In the coming weeks, 22 other base stations along with ten repeaters will be installed throughout the province of Aceh as well as Nias Island in North Sumatra.
“The Canadian Red Cross is contributing with financial and technical support to install and strengthen the early warning system. We are also providing training and courses for radio operators and building the capacity of the Indonesian Red Cross,” adds Kafle, who participated in the International Disaster Reduction Conference in Davos, Switzerland, last August to discuss strengthening global disaster preparedness and mitigation.
Eighty Indonesian Red Cross staff and volunteers have already received training in the use of radio handsets, and in communicating early warning information, skills they will disseminate further amongst their own communities. In all, 300 radio handsets will be distributed to specially trained staff and volunteers with ten vehicles fully equipped with radio equipment provided to Indonesian Red Cross branches.
Edo, an Indonesian Red Cross radio technician and trainer, stresses the importance of community awareness, alertness and participation. Communities, he says, must be prepared and know what to do when a warning comes.
“The radios are only tools. It is the people themselves who can tell the difference between life and death. The key factor to reducing risk of disaster is to get the right information to the people at the right time. This is why we need the radio network.”
Posted October 4, 2006