Bandung. The government has embarked on a project to map the earthquake-prone regions of the country in a bid to prevent deaths resulting from the natural disaster.
Surono, the head of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Agency (PVMBG), said on Thursday that the map would initially only go down to the provincial level.
He said it was important for Indonesia to have such a map because of its high vulnerability to earthquakes.
He pointed out that between 2000 and 2011, there were 12 major earthquakes worldwide that claimed more than 1,000 lives each, including the December 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami that killed around 170,000 in Aceh province.
“Four of these earthquakes occurred in Indonesia,” Surono said.
“So it would not be wise for Indonesia not to have such an [earthquake vulnerability] map.”
He added that the maps for Java and Sumatra had already been completed.
“We hope to finish the maps for Sulawesi and the other eastern provinces in 2014,” he said.
The national map is being compiled by the PVMBG in association with experts from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), the Public Works Ministry and the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).
“The team has drawn up most of the map, but we still need to include geological information, earthquake histories and notes of past quakes going back hundreds or even thousands of years,” Surono said.
He added that the earthquake map was among the other disaster vulnerability maps that the PVMBG was required to publish. The legal basis for these projects is a cooperation agreement between Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and the Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction.
Surono said a technical audit of the map, once completed, would be carried out by a team from Australia.
“The results will tell us whether we need to boost our capacity in human resources or make improvements elsewhere,” he said.
He expressed hope that once the maps for all the provinces were done, they would give regional leaders a clearer picture of the population distribution in their areas, and thereby help them devise policies on settlement planning and disaster awareness campaigning.