Local Contribution in Build Back Better Campaign

Padang Pariaman was one of the areas hardest hit by the September 30
th 2009 earthquake and landslides. The need for shelter in this area was extreme, as was the burden on the local community to help themselves with urgent shelter and sustenance needs. People here were struggling to deal with their trauma, and they also feared concrete buildings were unsafe. Those with the resources to do so were generally building semi-permanent or wooden structures.

Many local people contributed what they could to help their area and community members recover. One example of local contribution was the actions undertaken by a presenter at the local radio station in Padang Pariaman, Kiambang FM Radio. Henri Ihsan is one of the radio presenters at Kiambang FM Radio as well as a local activist who was directly involved in establishing temporary shelter and providing emergency assistance to affected communities in several areas of Padang Pariaman.

“My personal social activities allow me to discuss a lot of issues with people in our local area. While visiting communities, doing assessments and other activities I have many opportunities to speak with, and learn things from, people on the ground. They tell me their stories, their troubles and their concerns; from that I have learned a lot about what is needed and what can really make a difference here.” Henri explained.

“This Rumah Aman Gempa campaign is very important for our people. Before this campaign was launched people would blame the earthquake for all the problems they faced; for the sufferings and the losses that happened. But now they are starting to understand that the buildings themselves are major factors in how much damage and sufferings happen, that is if they collapse or not. Personally, I myself learned all about this, as well as the correct techniques for earthquake-safe construction, from watching the ‘Rumah Aman Gempa’ film I was given.

Most construction workers in our area have never received the kind of instruction or information provided in the Build Back Better materials prior to this campaign. Most of the buildings affected by the earthquake in Agam District were old brick and limestone buildings. None of the buildings in the area had reinforced columns and didn’t use steel reinforcement. Local construction workers here learned their trades ‘on the job’, with construction techniques being passed down from builders to their apprentices. Unfortunately, around here, construction workers often try to finish a job as quickly as possible, with little concern about the quality or sound structure and durability of the buildings they are constructing. Meanwhile, home or building owners for whom the work is being done do not have the knowledge to be able to oversee or quality control the work that is being done.”

Henri then talked about his personal initiative to socialize the ‘Rumah Aman Gempa’ information further in his local area. “We have a great following of listeners in our local area, and after I watched the ‘Rumah Aman Gempa’ film I felt it was really important for us to help them access the important information included in the film. I started looking at ways to adapt the film so our radio station could broadcast it.”

“I edited the film so that it could be broadcasted as part of our radio program, including breaking up the audio into a four-part series, which gave people access to the important technical information in a radio-friendly format. The program included messages to inspire and encourage local listeners so they would be more confident that they would be able to make more earthquake safe buildings.”

When asked where the motivation to do all this work came from, Henri Ihsan replied: “This is a personal initiative, I just felt that this information would be really useful for our listeners, so I made it happen”.