Crossed in mind a few years ago, when visiting a relocation site of Koa located in Mollo Barat, Timor Tengah Selatan, Nusa Tenggara Timor, Indonesia. After the post conflict, some people who used to live in East Timor chose to settle in the territory of West Timor. They were relocated away from their homeland. When we wanted to visit them in the relocation site, the dry-looking river was crossed under the hot sun. If it is not mistaken, the river is commonly called the Noelmina River. The river is very wide but dry during the dry season. It is different to Jawa Island, where the rainy season lasts approximately for six months, while in NTT only three months.
When the river was dry, a car could reach a trip to the relocation. The car reached houses of former East Timorese refugees, a term referring to new settlers. Koa relocation surrounded by two rivers will be very isolated when entering the rainy season. In addition, the hill, on the other site of the relocation, is without an access for vehicles.
Once, during the rainy season and the river was still dry, the trip to the relocation was very easy even though being exposed by the heat. Could be imagined if the river began to be filled with water. Local settlements in Koa always reminded to immediately cross the river, if only a little late, the water level was very dangerous to safety. One day when going back to Kupang, the clouds were already dark. They were so dark at upper reaches of river. The rain had just fallen on the Koa area. Walking routes could be eroded by the falling rain. Unconsciously when having to follow the route back to Kupang, no longer access filled up the sediments on the dry river. The only access was to the river which was wide enough. When reaching the river bank, the river current was strong gone with the swift.
A decision was taken immediately whether to stay or continue to move towards the other side. Finally, with the right time, simultaneously and hand in hand, the strong current could be passed. The water level was as high as chest.
Always remember, the experience when it later found out that an area was hit by flood. We can imagine a situation when the flood or strong current drift whatever it takes. Flood and landslide are deadly hazard around us, living in Indonesia.
Since September 2017 to November 2017, the number of flood and landslide incidents hit several areas in Indonesia causing 36 deaths. During this period, 212 flood and landslide incidents categorized as hydro-meteorological disaster also damaged 369 houses to severely damaged and hundred thousand of people evacuated. Moreover, ongoing rainy season that still occurs until the beginning of the year. Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) estimates that the peak of rainy season will take place in December 2017 – February 2018. This year number of flood and landslide exceeds an annual average, based on the data with a span of 10 years.
Data taken from the Indonesia National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) mentions around 63,7 million population distributed in 315 regencies exposed to flood, whereas 40,9 million distributed in 274 regencies exposed to landslide. From different side, some factors trigger high threat the hazards throughout the archipelago, such as environmental degradation, settlement along riverbanks, critical watersheds (DAS). In relation with the watersheds, Head of Data, Information and Public Relations Centre BNPB Sutopo Purwo Nugroho mentioned that from 540 DAS in Indonesia, around 118 DAS in critical condition nowadays. As the watersheds damaged, it will be easier flooding during rain, and vice versa, dry season triggers drought.
From the number of flood and landslide this year, the areas of West Java, Central Java and East Java are often experienced the incidents. Accumulation of floods and landslides in West Java 45 events, Central Java 47 and East Java 19. Java is a densely populated island with high risk of flood and landslide.
Afterwards, what do we have to do regarding with this condition? A simple action that we are able to do is to identify our surroundings, whether it has a potential to be exposed to floods or landslides or not. If it is surrounded by hills, pay attention to rainfall and rain duration. We can access weather information on an application called Info BMKG or this website www.bmkg.go.id, as well other application such as PetaBencana.id (for monitoring potential flood in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi, Surabaya, and Bandung).
To anticipate upredictable incident, discuss immediately with local authority about evacuation route or shelter. If we live in an area prone to flood and landslide, prepare yourself for anticipating the worst incident. Prepare your gears or very important documents to be secured. However, our safety is the most priority.
Spread and promote a virus of disaster awareness towards people around you!