E-News Issue 4
Monday, 07 June 2021
Charles Darwin University
Rinjani in Lombok is one of Indonesia’s 76 active volcanos
Rinjani in Lombok is one of Indonesia’s 76 active volcanos

A studied approach to disaster preparedness and early warnings

An Indonesian student is pursuing qualifications in disaster management so he can assist his fellow citizens when catastrophe strikes.

Mujiburrahman Thontowi is a PhD candidate in Humanitarian, Emergency and Disaster Management in the College of Indigenous Futures, Education and Arts at Charles Darwin University (CDU).

His humanitarian trajectory began one early morning just over 15 years ago, when he was woken by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that shook Yogyakarta and Central Java.

Mr Thontowi said the quake killed 5,700 people and left many more injured, with damage estimated at over USD $3.1 billion.

"I was a Batchelor of Law student at the time, but the tragedy changed my career focus because I wanted to do something to help people who were affected. That led me to work with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,” Mr Thontowi said.

Now, with the assistance of a scholarship from the Government of Indonesia, he is a full-time CDU student learning to take a holistic approach to disasters, emergencies and community risks.

While pursuing research, he has also joined scenario training, attended sessions taught by industry experts, and interacted closely with leading aid agencies, NGOs and government departments.

He’s also pursuing research to unify Indonesia’s disparate disaster warning systems. Indonesia has many single hazard early warning systems for tsunamis, volcanos, fire hotspot monitoring, floods and landslides, but most are centralised in Jakarta.

Working with Save the Children Indonesia, and funded by Google, Mr Thontowi combined multiple hazard warning systems into Bumikita, an Indonesian-language mobile phone app available on the Play Store.

“I love working in this field and I love helping others. After my studies, I want to return to Indonesia and share my knowledge and skills from my research so the community can benefit. In the distant future, I may consider engaging with a regional or international organisation to build capacities of nations in multi-hazards early warning system across the Pacific Ring of Fire. But for now, I’m focused on completing my thesis at CDU,” he said.