Community Radio and Disaster Information System

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Almost all of Indonesia has a high level of earthquake and tsunami vulnerability yet currently there is not a technology that can predict when earthquakes will strike. Disasters can occur suddenly anywhere within the earthquake zone. Disaster risk reduction and knowledge distribution mechanisms can help people avoid losses due when disaster strikes.The early warning systems can be used as an alarm anytime an earthquake is coming.

According to Junichi Hibino, Director of Radio FM YY in Kobe, Japan, community radio can fulfill this need for early warning systems. Radio FM YY Hibino was established in Kobe, Japan after the Kobe earthquake. In 1995, Kobe earthquake killed 4571 people, injured 14,678 people, and resulted in 222,127 people homeless. The Kobe earthquake also damaged or destroyed more than 120,000 buildings. During the earthquake, FM YY managed disaster information such as evacuation routes, and the locations of safe evacuation.

Junichi visit to Padang Pariaman, Indonesia in December 2009 to share his experiences in developing disaster management-based community radio. Japan has similar earthquake vulnerabilities to Indonesia; both are strings of islands on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean.

The West Sumatra Earthquake on September 30, 2009 built awareness for a need for a Disaster Information System based in the community. Due to the perception that the government's handling of the disaster was poor, community activists saw a need to develop a local Disaster Information System. Currently, there are four community radio stations involved in the Community Radio Network project, they are Kiambang FM Radio at 6 × 11 EnamLingkung subdistrict, Padang Sago FM Radio] at Padang Sago Subdistrict, Suandri FM Radio at VI Koto Subdistrict, and Bahana FM Radio at Pariaman City.

To handle the distance problems, they use radio communication technology (RIG) and Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). Through RIG, the community radio activists exchange information intensively and disseminate information through radio broadcasts to their communities. In addition, community radio also organizes several off air activities, such as popular education for children, computer training, and disaster management system workshops.