As La Nina returns, Indonesia braces for floods and landslides


The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned of heavy rainfall that could trigger hydrometeorological disasters, as a weak La Niña event is currently re-emerging in Indonesia for the second year in a row.

La Nina has been developing since October 2021 and is expected to strengthen in November and December and become a moderate La Nina by the end of 2021 to February 2022, according to to BMKG Head Dwikorita Karnawati.

In January 2021, a total of 372 natural disasters had struck Indonesia and left 216 dead and 12,056 others injured, in part due to the weakness of La Nina which had developed since late 2020 and increased monthly precipitation by up to 70 percent.

The natural disasters included 227 floods, 66 whirlpools, 60 landslides, seven earthquakes, seven high tides or abrasions and four forest fires, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

La Niña refers to the large-scale cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, associated with changes in tropical atmospheric circulation, namely winds, pressure, and precipitation. It usually has opposite impacts on weather and climate like El Niño, which is the warm phase of what is known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Climate change increases the severity and frequency of natural phenomena and disasters.

La Nina, which means little girl, usually sets off torrential rains and widespread flooding across the country.

Indonesia, with monsoons and dry seasons, is prone to natural disasters, and typically around 75 percent of disasters are hydrometeorological in nature, such as floods, landslides and high winds.

Therefore, BMKG warned against Hydrometeorological disasters caused by La Nina in several regions of the country in the coming months.

“This needs to be dealt with appropriately by the whole community, especially the farmers, so that excessive rainfall does not cause losses to agriculture,” she said.

She stressed the need to improve the early warning system and the dissemination of weather forecasts to mitigate disaster risk.

The agency also called for intensive coordination between relevant ministries and institutions, and better disaster risk management in the regions.

Related news: The need to scale up education on hydrometeorological disaster risk: Effendy

On October 29, 2021, BMKG organized a virtual coordination meeting on preparations for the impacts of La Nina, which was attended by representatives of relevant ministries and institutions.

BNPB Director Ganip Warsito, who joined the meeting, urged regions prone to hydrometeorological disasters to increase their vigilance and preparation for the La Nina event.

He cited Central Java, West Java, East Java and South Sulawesi as the regions with the highest number of hydrometeorological disasters between 2016 and 2020.

The weather forecasts and early warnings issued by BMKG are crucial as references for interventions in the field. Detailed information could lead to precise decisions on the ground that could save lives, he noted.

Efforts to mitigate short-term hydrometeorological disasters can be made by planting vegetation, cleaning up streams, repairing river dikes and optimizing drainage enhancement.

For long-term mitigation, spatial planning must be conducted accordingly and take into account aspects related to disasters, added Warsito.

Previously, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had installed an early warning system for landslides in several regions to deal with potential hydrometeorological disasters. triggered by La Nina.

The system will provide early warnings for landslides in areas upstream of rivers and map runoff levels, according to Deputy Environment and Forestry Minister Alue Dohong.

At the same time, the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) and the Association of Indonesian Hydraulic Engineers (HATHI) have also prepared several measures to combat the impacts of The girl.

“According to BMKG forecasts, the rains from late 2021 to early 2022 will be influenced by La Nina,” Ministry Secretary General Zainal Fattah said in his welcome speech at the Annual Scientific Meeting (PIT) of HATHI at Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS) Surabaya, East Java Province, October 30, 2021.

Indonesia is one of the countries with considerable water resources. These enormous resources must be maintained with good management, he said, adding that “However, our water resources also have the potential to cause damage. Natural disasters show an increasing trend.”

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BNPB data showed Indonesia recorded 750 floods in 2019, more than a thousand in 2020, and the number is increasing this year, he said.

Therefore, the ministry has taken several anticipatory measures, including activating the Disaster Mitigation Working Group to monitor all existing infrastructure in Indonesia and inspect the volume of flooding.

“We also apply disaster warning SOPs (standard operating procedures) to 250 dams with a reservoir volume of 4.7 m3,” he noted.

In the meantime, the coordinating minister of human development and culture, Muhadjir Effendy, urged the authorities to increase education and dissemination of information on hydrometeorological disasters to the public.

“The hydrometeorological risk must not degenerate into a fatal disaster. To break this vicious cycle, we must have a better and deeper understanding of the hydrometeorological disaster and its risks,” he said at the meeting on the La Nina risk mitigation.

Indonesia should not wait for risk to turn into disaster, and instead authorities should reduce disaster risk by disseminating knowledge and encouraging preparedness among the public.

While improving residents’ preparedness, the dissemination of information would also help reduce potential material and human losses, thereby positively impacting public welfare and resilience against potential hydrometeorological disaster risks, said Effendy. .

Better seasonal forecasts are essential in this regard, as they help to plan ahead and achieve substantial socio-economic benefits in climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, food security, health and risk reduction. disaster.

Related News: Indonesia Engages in Disaster Management: Official


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