Build Back Better reaches remote communities in Pariaman

The Village Chief or Wali Nagari of Lareh Nan Panjang, District VII, Koto, Padang Pariaman, Azrul Aswat, has a challenging job taking care of his community, which encompasses an area of 1500 ha, and has a population of 5,853. These communities were highly impacted by the September 30th 2009 earthquake. 1,412 homes were severely damaged, 590 somewhat damaged, and 140 slightly damaged. 

As part of the Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction Build Back Better Program, three community screenings were held in Mr Azrul’s area. The more than 250 viewers were very enthusiastic about the screenings, and they stayed until the end of the films, even though the weather at the outdoor venue was bad.

Mr Azrul attended all of the community screenings held in his district. He was highly appreciative of the events, as well as the media that was distributed to the community. He said, “The films and other media given to us, have really helped me explain to our community techniques for earthquake safe house construction. Our community is quite remote and before this we had no access to information like this.” He also explained “People who have a VCD player are being asked and instructed to play the film and invite their neighbors to watch with them. This will be a serious subject of discussions when the community gathers. Everyone is very interested about this issue.“ 

According to Mr Azrul, community screenings are a very good strategy for reaching people in these kinds of areas, where education is low, and there is very limited access to modern media. The participation of community leaders is also very important, because in these rural areas, they are the ones that people go to for advise and to complain about problems. 

“This material will be very useful for our village elders and leaders. By referencing the material they can help to disseminate earthquake safe building information and issues related to the rehabilitation process. Now they will remind our citizens about the value of rebuilding using proper construction techniques.” 

In Lareh Nan Long, only a few people have been able to begin to re-build their damaged homes. Those that have done so, have used savings or sold jewelry or livestock. Some have family members living abroad who sent assistance. However, most people are waiting for the rehabilitation / reconstruction grants.

“It will take time and a coordinated effort to change the way people build. Generally people leave decisions about construction techniques to the workers that are doing the construction. So the attitude and practices of the construction workers  is really important.” He explained.

“There are a lot of builders in our area, but they lack any training. It would be best if there was training for them from the government and related institutions.” Advised Mr Azrul. 

“We really hope that communities will better understand and practice earthquake safe construction, especially in our area, which is prone to earthquakes. It’s an important part of our preparedness to face disasters. It’s also good for us to do because our homes will last longer and be more durable.” He also expressed his hope that “key information about this should be incorporated into the Pokmas mandate.”