The Role of Community Leaders in Build Back Better Campaign

Mr. Tarmizi is a ‘
Labai’, or local religious leader, in Jorong Sulayang, Nagari Lubuk Basung, Agam. He is a young unmarried man that has spent pretty much his whole life here in his small village of Jorong Sulayang, which is about 8 kilometers from the center of Agam. To reach his area, one has to climb a 70-degree angled slope about 700 meters up into the hills of Bukit Barisan.

In this area 90% of the people work as rice farmers and cultivators. The September 30th 2009 earthquake damaged three of the main irrigation channels to the farmlands in this area. This had a massive impact on local farmers, who were no longer able to irrigate or work their fields.

In this isolated area, people really enjoy their entertainment. TV satellite dishes are common features in the local landscape. The women and youth are still diligent in attending Majelis Taklim recitations, although they spend more time watching soap operas. Children here still study martial arts, but are spending more and more time watching TV and playing ‘Playstations’. The seniors in the community tend to access external information and media through the more ‘traditional’ TV stations such as West Sumatra and National TVRI, and this area does not have any local TV station coverage.

About 150 homes in this community were damaged during the September 30th earthquake. Most of them were older buildings made from lime and sand. Most of the wooden houses were not affected by the 7.9 RS quake. Concrete construction is a different story. Of all of the new concrete homes in the area only about 15 did not experience major impacts during the earthquake.

“The ‘Rumah Aman Gempa’ film and brochures were very useful for us. The community was very enthusiastic and attentive when the movie was screened here in the village meeting place. And since the screening, the topic of earthquake safe housing is the main topic “on the streets”. In the local coffee shops, and other gathering places, this is what everyone is talking about." Explained Mr. Tarmizi with a smile.

“Before this time we had only heard snippets of information about such buildings, and only a few of us had heard even that – this information came mostly from NGOs who were doing relief work in the area.”

“But the “Rumah Aman Gempa” film really helped us to actually understand what earthquake safe house construction is about. We got a lot of detailed and practical information by watching that film, it really made sense.”

“Some of us also saw the film when it was aired on TVRI, but not everyone, maybe only about half the people in our community. Most people around here, if they have access to satellite dishes, will choose to watch the national entertainment channels”.

"God willing, these important messages about earthquake safe construction can get through to our people.”