The Jakarta Post
The West Aceh regency in Aceh has called for a cooperation with Japan to improve disaster mitigation efforts in the region, a government official said on Wednesday.
The West Aceh Development Planning Board (Bappeda) Chairman H.T. Ahmad Dadek said that the local government had asked for Japan's support because it had seen that the awareness of the Acehnese people toward mitigation effort was still lacking.
"The massive earthquake and tsunami in 2004 has not been a strong enough warning to push the people to be on guard or to make natural disaster part of their character and culture," said Ahmad as quoted by Antara news agency.
Ahmad said that the local government had held a meeting with two Japanese researchers, Engineers Without Borders general secretary Suzuki Tamojo and Asian Disaster Reduction Center senior researcher Masaru Arakida in West Aceh.
Both researchers helped the local government to make its proposal of cooperation, which will later be submitted to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Ahmad added.
Arakida said he wanted to educate Acehnese people about the methods of disaster mitigation by taking an example from Japan, where mitigation efforts did not necessarily need further theory and presentation, but instead emphasized application-based implementation.
"Japanese methods are not the best either. People have their own system and methods to improve their disaster mitigation," said Arakida.
Meanwhile, Suzuki said that local people themselves needed to be involved and aware that they need to improve their mitigation efforts, thus helping the people to prepare themselves to face natural disaster.
According to Suzuki, Japanese people were calm in facing natural disaster because they had been disciplined since they were little, thanks to the long-term results of their culture and education.
Instead of following fixed procedures that were rather hard to understand, Suzuki said, the important thing when strengthening disaster mitigation efforts was to practice disaster simulation. This needs to be constantly evaluated, he added.
Schools in Aceh could adopt a curriculum on education of disaster mitigation, such as the one that is currently being implemented at schools in Japan, Suzuki added. (mas/iik)