Are you disaster-ready? SDG Talks zoom in on Disaster Preparedness

July 21, 2021

When disasters strike, every second counts – in the most literal sense. A split-second delay in reaction can cost our life. But are you well-versed enough to take the necessary steps when the next disasters hit you?

The July edition of UNDP’s monthly SDG Talks event called on Indonesian youth to develop an acute sense of disaster preparedness to adopt a “disaster-prone lifestyle”. It is about recognizing the dangers and be proactive in mitigating the risks. This issue is key to the survival of communities in Indonesia, which lies in the world’s most active tectonic plateau and a hotbed for earthquakes and volcanic eruption.  

Entitled “Natural Disaster Survival Guide: Your Emergency Checklist”, the event featured panelists from experts and vulnerable communities such as Ms. Andira Pramatyasari who represented the women with disabilities communities  Himpunan Wanita Disabilitas Indonesia, Mr. Whisnu Anggono, of UNDP’s PETRA Project, Ms. Agatya Wenantyawati, of UNDP’s RESTORE Project, and Ms. Jolene Marie, Miss Environment Indonesia, 2019.

In his opening remarks, UNDP Indonesia Resident Representative Mr. Norimasa Shimomura, called for integrating disaster risk reduction in everyday life with everyone’s involvement.

“True development can occur only if we include all members of society, and this includes a gender-inclusive response. It is our duty to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to escape in the event of a natural disaster and protect themselves,” he said adding that he had been learning emergency steps during earthquake since he was in kindergarten.

Mr. Shimomura hails from Japan, a model nation on disaster risk reduction, which is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons.

Economic Counsellor at the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia, Mr. Shimizu Kazuhiko, also reflected on the way his home nation coped with disasters in line with “build back better” principles.

“Japan has a long history on disaster risk reduction management. Since the great earthquake that hit the eastern part of the country, it made us work harder to increase our resilience towards disasters,” he said,  referring to the 2011 March earthquake which he experienced whilst working in capital city Tokyo .

“Japan emphasizes the importance of disaster risk reduction in the Sustainable Development Goals. The young generation has their role to also work and build back better because disasters will not wait during this difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.

Gender equality was also discussed during the webinar. Statistics indicate that women – and children – are 14 times more likely to die than men during a disaster. This data alone shows that some groups of people are more prone to disasters than others.

Andira from the WHDI said more efforts is needed to integrate the need of people with disabilities in disaster responses. ”Support for people with disabilities is currently not a priority especially in the critical hours after disasters occur,” she said.

Disaster can happen any time, and sometimes they can happen consecutively. Communities in the provinces of Central Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara were still recovering from the 2018 earthquake when the COVID-19 pandemic hit them.

“The fallout from the pandemic’ cannot be seen physically. However, in our work we see that it has had a devastating impact on women and children,” said Agatya Wenantyawati.

Dr. Ir. Hj. Sitti Rohmi Djalilah, Vice Governor of West Nusa Tenggara, said that youth involvement is key to the success of disaster preparedness.

”We realize that the integration of both digitalization, reaching further until the village level, and stakeholders are crucial elements to prepare society and to developawareness of disaster risk reduction efforts. We are thankful that 49 percent of our TSBD [Tim Siaga Bencana Desa - Village Level Disaster Alert Team] are youth who actively support the work at the village level, thanks to the PETRA Project,” she said.

So, how do we prepare ourselves for disasters? By formulating emergency plans with multiple scenarios.

”During my time working in the post disaster area, I have learned that having an emergency plan with familiies and having an emergency list are important. It can include important documents, cash, medicines, nutritious food and drinks, and also masks and hand-sanitizer,” said Mr. Whisnu.

Emergency plans are most needed for disabled communities.

“For people with disabilities, it is important to prepare support equipment based on our physical disabilities, including the medicines. Furthermore, do not forget to pack a power-bank, as we need to keep up communication,” said Ms. Andhira.

To find out more on emergency steps during earthquakes, tsunamis and floods, click

(Pocketbook for disaster’s preparedness in Indonesian)

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Written by Enggi Dewanti

Edited by Tomi Soetjipto and Ranjit Jose