Gamalama Erupts and the National Symposium

In the late hours of August 2nd, after completing our final day of the workshop, the Volcano decided to erupt.

We awoke to plumes billowing out of a new vent that has opened up on Gamalama. The volcano often experiences this type of activity, and most recently had a similar eruption in December, 2015.

Our colleagues at BPBD (the local disaster agency) were busy handing out safety masks, and BMKG (the meteorology and geology agency) were issuing alert levels. The BPBD briefed us about the requisite evacuation procedures and the different types of procedures they would follow under specific scenarios. They even had a plan to gather all boats to evacuate the entire city-island!

The haze and ash had redirected toward the city, the airport was shrouded in what looked like a light grayish snow. The airport closed. As the awareness levels had not reached warning levels, most public facilities still remained open, which means that the disaster symposium planned for August 3rd would still be taking place.

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Team prepared!

The University of Hawaii was asked to provide the opening address, alongside the Rector of Khairun University. The role of universities in Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation was highlighted. Students from the university also presented a dance drama during the opening, a customary adaptation of traditional ceremonies from the island of Tidore.


Thereafter, Dr. Suprayoga Hadi discussed a national level perspective on disaster management. He highlighted the three “si”s Regulasi, Koordinasi, and Investasi (regulation, coordination, and investment). He described Indonesia’s unique position and experience in disaster management and highlighted the importance of universities to build networks and establish centers of excellence with a clear focus.

The mayor then took to the podium to discuss and described the important of incorporating DRR into local planning processes, which was highlighted in the local news

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Finally, the four groups from the workshop that had done vulnerability assessments also had the opportunity to present their rapid vulnerability assessments to this distinguished audience. They presented video and data collected from the workshop announcements and skillfully discussed frameworks for analyzing risks, and presenting solutions to the themes raised in the Symposium.


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