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Cultural approaches ‘more effective’ in handling those fleeing natural disasters: BNPB

Jakarta Post
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Jakarta | Fri, September 29, 2017 | 09:10 am

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has said cultural approaches are often more effective than structural ones in handling those fleeing natural disasters.

“The handling of disasters in Indonesia is unique. This country is a disaster laboratory with special characteristics,” BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a press statement on Thursday.

He admitted it was often quite difficult for the authorities to evacuate residents from their homes.

“Residents in the surrounding areas sometimes refuse to evacuate for various reasons, one of which is to guard their cattle,” said Purwo.

This happened during the eruption of Mount Merapi in Central Java from October to November 2010. The eruption killed 277 people.

“Half of the residents living near Mt. Merapi refused to evacuate because they wanted to guard their cattle. Cattle are a precious asset in our society. Cattle have become part of the lives and culture of people living around a mountain. That’s why it’s difficult for them to evacuate,” said Purwo.

When the alert level of Mt. Agung in Karangasem, Bali, was increased to the highest level last week, some residents near the volcano refused to evacuate, citing the cattle as their reason to stay.

As of Wednesday, the Animal Husbandry and Animal Health Task Force has evacuated 1,384 heads of cattle to 30 evacuation points in five regencies across Bali. Around 10,000 heads of cattle have been evacuated by their owners voluntarily. (ebf)