Indonesia has most of the world’s earthquakes, tsunami and explosive volcanic eruptions. It is also one of the most densely populated places in the world, which is a formula for epic natural disasters that have happened many times in Indonesia’s past. The 2004 Sumatran earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami claimed around 180,000 lives in Indonesia alone.
The main focus in Indonesia is tsunami disaster mitigation. The Waves Initiative combines best practices in research of tsunamis and the active faults that cause them with mitigation strategies informed by engineering and social sciences, cultural expertise and previous tsunami events. The way we bridge the existing gap between tsunami hazards research and disaster mitigation is by:
Constructing tsunami inundation maps for major coastal communities that include the extent of deposits left from previous tsunami, historical records and tsunami modeling.
- Erecting tsunami stones that mark run-up heights of previous, but forgotten tsunami.
- Coordinating and testing local calling trees between threatened coastal communities using existing technologies and cultural practices.
- Locally initiated evacuation drills informed by tsunami inundation maps and cultural leaders.
- Planting vegetative barriers between the sea and coastal communities most at risk.
These activities have proven to make the difference between life and death for many coastal communities impacted recently by tsunamis in the Indonesian region.
Future projects include:
- Establishing cell phone-based warning networks
- Marking the inundation levels from previous tsunamis and training locals how to use them for proper evacuation measures.
- Conducting coastal reforestation in areas threatened by cyclones and tsunamis.