Integrating Build Back Better Campaign into Local Culture

The Minangkabau (West Sumatran) people tend to wait for proof of value before following suit when it comes to change or innovation. They are wary of un-proven ideas or what they consider to be hearsay. They are highly intelligent, somewhat critical people, and here, "Cimeeh" or 'stubbornness or challenging’ is a common personality characteristic.

This local practice of ‘challenging’ stimulates debate and encourages people to seek more insight, or to gain deeper understanding about questions at hand. For people in remote areas of West Sumatra accepting new information is not easily done. They are however enthusiastic readers, and appreciate access to new ideas for consideration.

So how does a public awareness campaign successfully roll out in remote areas of West Sumatra where "Cimeeh" is still very much part of the culture of society? Here, changes in understanding arise gradually, public adoption of new ideas and practices emerge slowly, as people try and test new theories. If enough people consider and agree to trying new ideas and the results are proven in practice, awareness and behavior can begin to change.

In remote communities here, concrete signs of the first steps of change are starting to be seen. Since the launching of the ‘Rumah Aman Gempa’ campaign in the area, those that are able to start re-building are being more careful about the construction methods and materials they use, they are more attentive to the construction worker’s actions, and interested in accessing information related to ‘Rumah Aman Gempa’.

Mr. Jubrizal from SAM FM radio in Agam explained, “some listeners, who live really far from the studio, came all the way down here to ask questions and discuss the construction of their homes after we started airing shows about ‘Rumah Aman Gempa’. We were able to give one listener a copy of the ‘Rumah Aman Gempa’ film and some brochures to take home with him. He recently told us that the film is being screened at local coffee shops and information is being passed around from one person to the next.”

“People have been coming for information from many areas, Cubadak, Tiku, Lubuk Mangindo and even from Pasaman Barat, "said Mr Jubrizal.    

“Even if they understand how to build concrete construction that is safe and recommended for these areas, people will not easily adapt unfamiliar methods because they are new to them. Not only this, but people are also really struggling financially since the earthquake.”

He continued, “Only those with substantial savings are able to re-build their homes. The cost to build homes using concrete is expensive, not to mention the rising price of steel.  Construction workers’ wages have also dramatically risen since the quake. So most people are just waiting and staying at relatives’ homes or temporary shelters, as they wait for the distribution of government assistance in order to reconstruct their homes.”

“We encourage our listeners as much as possible to consider rebuilding their homes using earthquake-safe construction methods like these. We explain to them that this is not only for us but for our grandchildren’s’ sakes, for the future of our people and culture "said Mr. Jubrizal.

"As a Community Radio Station we have a responsibility to ensure that the local public has good access to relevant and alternative information. As members of the local community, we understand what they are going through, their conditions, and their needs. At this point our people really need to recover, and to do so they need clear information.”

“So our main message to the public has been ‘It’s really not the earthquakes we should be worried about, but how but how much attention we pay to our building constructions. Our homes need to be good quality and safe. What use is it to have a nice house, that won’t be safe in an earthquake?’”