Indonesia partners with Hawaii to strengthen disaster management training

Indonesian visitors
Workshop participants with Dr. Dolores Foley (front row, 4th from left) and Dr. Karl Kim (left of Foley).

A dozen faculty members from Indonesian universities have come to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa this summer to learn about disaster risk management training and how it specifically can be applied to save lives in their country.

Indonesia is one of the most natural-disaster prone countries in the world. In the last decade alone, it has been affected by more than 160 disasters, including over 60 floods, more than 40 earthquakes, approximately a dozen volcanic events and several wildfires.

In response to the growing need for disaster risk management training, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the federal agency that administers aid and U.S. foreign development assistance, awarded a $327,295 grant to the Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) at the College of Social Sciences at UH Mānoa. The principal investigator is Professor Karl Kim, who also directs the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center. The funding from USAID will develop a cadre of academically trained personnel in disaster risk reduction for the region.

Dolores Foley, chair of DURP, stated, “This partnership with USAID and Indonesia will build on the experiences of the university’s graduate Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance program and the work of our FEMA center, the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center. The effort will also integrate course work and research from many departments on campus including planning, engineering, environmental and earth sciences, and other relevant fields involved in disaster risk reduction, community building, and design. In addition to theoretical knowledge, practical exercises and case studies, a key component is working directly with communities, conducting workshops and programs, and addressing such topics as detection, early warning systems, evacuation strategies, relief and humanitarian assistance, land use planning, coastal flood risk reduction, hazard resistant structural design, and recovery planning.”

This summer, the first year of the pilot program, 12 faculty members from Indonesian universities are participating in DURP’s Urban and Regional Planning’s Disaster Management Humanitarian Assistance (DMHA) graduate certificate program. Year one participants come from the Universitas Gadjah Mada, Universitas Islam Indonesia, Institut Teknologi Bandung and Bakrie University.

“We are delighted to work with our Indonesian partners who face similar hazards that we have in Hawaiʻi, such as volcanoes, tsunamis, coastal storms, as well as threats from ground subsidence, sea level rise and challenges from climate change,” said Professor Kim.

In year two, program participants, supported by DURP faculty, will work jointly to integrate the course content and deliver the curriculum in Indonesia. Partnerships with other Indonesian universities and agencies also will be undertaken to disseminate the program materials to a wider audience.

The final year of the program will result in the establishment of an Indonesian Graduate Certificate in Disaster Management, similar to the DMHA offered by UH Mānoa. In addition, the group will identify the resources required to sustain the program and deploy it to other natural-disaster prone areas such as Malaysia.

The College of Social Sciences (CSS) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is engaged in a broad range of research endeavors that address fundamental questions about human behavior and the workings of local, national and international political, social, economic and cultural institutions. Its vibrant student-centered academic climate supports outstanding scholarship through internships, and active and service learning approaches to teaching that prepare students for the life-long pursuit of knowledge.

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the College of Social Sciences fosters a multidisciplinary set of intellectual and practical tools to aid in improving the quality of life for present and future generations, both locally and globally, through planning, public policy and social collaboration. In addition to an accredited masters degree in planning, the department also offers the graduate certificate in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance.