Located in Indonesia’s East Java Province, Kalikatir Village is prone to flash flooding caused by the Klorak River. The river runs through three villages: Dilem and Begaganlimo in the upstream, and Kalikatir in the downstream. A major flash flood that hit Kalikatir in 2017 was a warning for the 1,500 people that live there. Even though there were no casualties due to the flood, the physical damage was substantial, and had a big impact on people’s lives. The village’s water system was destroyed, and people had no access to clean water for two weeks. Additionally, the bridge that connects Kalikatir to the neighboring village, Dilem, was broken and unusable for two months. No one was prepared for the flood at the time. "I did not expect floods this big. This is the first time that flash floods have gone up to the road and damaged homes," said Sarmin, one of the flood victims.
Meanwhile, in Sitiarjo Village, East Java, the village’s 7,000 residents are fully aware of the flood risk from Panguluran River. The village deals with flooding almost every year due to the river overflowing. However, this community still faced significant risks as they did not have access to timely information regarding the onset of flooding, and as a result, do not have sufficient time to evacuate and save their valuable items. The installation of Early Warning Systems (EWS) can help solve this issue.
Wahyudi shows the EWS equipment in Klorak River of Mojokerto District.
Credit: Stella Arya/USAID APIK
USAID, through its Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience (Adaptasi Perubahan Iklim dan Ketangguhan-APIK
) Project, worked together with the Local Disaster Management Agency to address these issues, which are becoming increasingly common due to climate change. New early warning systems provide needed solutions for the communities living near the Klorak and Panguluran Rivers. According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction-UNDRR, EWS is an integrated system of hazard monitoring, forecasting and prediction, disaster risk assessment, communication and preparedness activities, systems, and processes that enables individuals, communities, governments, businesses, and others to take timely action to reduce disaster risks in advance of hazardous events.
Diagram of communication flow in the flood early warning systems installed through APIK.
Three tools were installed by USAID APIK: (1) Automatic Rain Gauges (ARG), which measure precipitation, temperature, and humidity; (2) Automatic Water Level Recorders (AWLR), which measure the water level in the river; and (3) emergency sirens, which provide an audible warning when flood events occur. The data captured by both the rain gauges and water level sensors will produce three levels of situation updates:
- Level 1 - people need to be aware and avoid any activity around the river
- Level 2 - people need to prepare and move valuable items to a safer place
- Level 3 - people should evacuate and move to higher ground because flooding will occur soon. The siren then informs the communities to prepare.
USAID APIK also helped the communities to establish disaster preparedness teams (DPT) that serve as a structured local resource responsible for organizing disaster management-related activities. They received training in using and maintaining the EWS equipment, and were provided with short wave radios to improve communication between the disaster preparedness groups in each village. USAID APIK supported them in producing a contingency plan so that there is a clear protocol for disaster management. USAID APIK also trained the DPT to conduct simulations in each village. The simulation is a crucial step to ensure that community members understand how the system works and what actions they should take during an emergency situation. This exercise involved the wider community, including the leaders, so that more people have improved capacity in disaster preparedness.
“After the exercise, I understood that the early warning system can help in building community preparedness to floods, and I can receive the information through my mobile phone,” said Mamiek Misniati, the Head of Sitiarjo Village. In 2019, the village government has allocated funds to equip themselves with short wave radios (handy talkie - HT) to strengthen the communication and coordination between community and village government officials and complement the early warning system that is now in place along the Panguluran River. The rainfall and water level sensors are installed in the upstream of the river, beyond the administrative boundaries of Sitiarjo Village. Therefore, coordination plays a big role in ensuring a successful early warning system.
Community members in Kalikatir Village receive an explanation on what EWS status means for them.
Credit: Enggar Paramita/USAID APIK
This transboundary coordination also exists in Klorak River, Mojokerto District, where USAID APIK supported the installation of EWS for the benefit of three villages: Kalikatir, Dilem, and Begaganlimo. Improved access to information from Dilem and Begaganlimo helps the community in Kalikatir to be more prepared to flooding risks and climate impacts. “We are way more organized now,” said Wahyudi, from the Dilem Village government. He added that the simulations need to be conducted annually to maintain and expand skills in DRR. The village government also plans to initiate tree planting on the riverbanks as part of the strategy in reducing flood risk.