Australia, UGM work to prepare locals for future Merapi eruptions Australian government and Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta have launched a partnership focusing on the long-term safety of Indonesians living near Mount Merapi.

The university will receive A$1.2 million (US$1.25 million) from the Australia Indonesia Facility Disaster Reduction (AIFDR) group to enhance existing preparedness, rehabilitation and reconstruction programs.

“Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, so we need to do all we can to ensure the safety of those who wish to live in the area,” AIFDR co-director Matt Hayne said in a press release on Wednesday.

The Australian government announced Wednesday an A$350,000 research grant, marking the beginning of the partnership.

The new project will seek a better understanding of local knowledge, belief systems and ways of life in 30 villages in Yogyakarta and Central Java, with findings used to guide future preparedness strategies and livelihood recovery plans.

“Volcanoes are incredibly difficult to plan for and devastating, as families lose loved ones and communities are displaced,” Hayne said.

“It is important we continue to prepare for future eruptions. A comprehensive preparedness strategy has to acknowledge, understand and use the generations of experience that local communities have from living with Mount Merapi for so long,” he said.

UGM’s head of anthropology, Nicolas Warouw, believes this project will bridge the gap between the government and victims of Mount Merapi.

“Findings garnered will share locally evolved strategies regarding mitigation, evacuation, reconstruction and recovery with governments,” he said.

“This partnership is not only designed to increase government understanding of local communities, but will also contribute to larger and more comprehensive social and economic studies designed to influence policy dialogue,” he said.


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