• Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Helping Community Radio in Managing Disaster at Merapi

The crater of Mt. Merapi seen from Deles (courtesy of Mr. Sukiman Sabar)

Mt. Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. In 2010 Mt. Merapi was erupted, killed more than 300 people and over 300.000 people displaced. As the result of the mountain last eruption, most people who live on the slopes of Merapi are still facing vulnerability to potential volcanic eruption or cold lava. Aware of the dangers that haunt them, the community leaders with the member of the villages formed a community radio in order to distribute the information towards the villagers all over the slopes of Merapi area to reduce the disaster risk. They establish Radio Komunitas Lintas Merapi (Lintas Merapi Community Radio) to serve 70,000 people living on the slope of Merapi, especially Deles Subdistrict, Central Java as it’s the biggest community that lives nearest from Merapi area.

Lintas Merapi Community Radio was established in 2001 due to the needs of effective and cheap communication device. The studio is located in Sukiman’s house, a well respected farmer who has been actively encourage the movements and independency as other many social activities amongst the community.  Initially the radio device established was very simple; hand-built equipment and was created with very limited fund as an emergency radio, also only worked on 20 watt power. After two disasters occurred in 2006, Merapi eruption and Jogja earthquake, people in Deles started to reconsider the importance of community radio for disaster risk reduction and then agreed to develop their own community radio. In 2008 they built new studio outside Sukiman’s house and the radio was equipped with a mixer, an audio compressor, handy talkies/HT (two way radio), a desktop computer, a phase-locked loop/PLL (a closed loop frequency control system), internet link, and a tower.

Local people distributed HT to 14 patrol post points as the standard operating procedure to monitor the volcano daily activity. Patrol posts are observation points to monitor the activities and environment of the volcano visually. The people in charge in patrol posts reports emergency situation to the Lintas Merapi  Radio studio so the broadcaster on duty able to note all details of information reported to be broadcasted to all villagers around volcano area covered by the radio broadcasting. This monitoring activicity by Lintas Merapi was also cooperated with Balai Penyelidikan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Kegunungapian/BPPTK (a government institution that is responsible for monitoring volcanoes in Indonesia).

Pak Sukiman do the broadcast. (courtesy of Mr. Sukiman Sabar)

Information from Lintas Merapi Radio is not only used by local people but also by people living along the rivers that flow from Mount Merapi. The rivers (Senowo, Woro, Gendol, Pabelan) are lines of cold and hot materials and usually occur after heavy rain on the slope of Merapi. The radio announces the level of emergency to its listeners whenever the volcano activity rises up.  Due to increasing heavy monsoon rainfall in the late 2012 and the beginning of 2013, the situation was critical on the Merapi high slopes and lowerlying riverbed in terms of new cold materials flood threats.  Therefore, the leaders of local village volunteer teams in Keningar on the west slope and Deles on the East slope have both asked QuakeFund to help them to improve the effectiveness of this monitoring activity. In that case QuakeFund helped them get 5 HT two way radios to reinforce their monitoring capacity and alertness activities regarding floods and cold materials mudflows. With this new HT radio, the Lintas Merapi volunteers able to broadcast the information faster to its listeners hence minimize material and non-material losses.

Pak Sukiman (from Deles village, head of the Lintas Merapi Community radio) with his newly acquired Weierwei UV-5R dualband radios provided with the help of the Quakefund donation

Pak Suparno (from Keningar village and head of the village water comittee) with his newly acquired Weierwei UV-5R dualband radios provided with the help of the Quakefund donation.

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