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Successful master thesis defence and German-Indonesian co-supervision as part of the Ina2Core and Tsunami Risk projects

Wicak's Fieldwork

Wicak's Fieldwork

News from Sep 13, 2023

Willy Wicaksono successfully defended his Master thesis on July 17, 2023, thus reaching an important milestone in his completion of the Master in Disaster Management programme at Universitas Indonesia. His thesis, entitled ‘Community disaster cultures and the Indonesia tsunami warning system’, focuses on the locality of Labuan, which was impacted by the tsunami that was triggered by the eruption of Anak Krakatau volcano at the Sunda Strait, Indonesia. Wicak's thesis also finds its place at the intersection of two interlinked research projects, Ina2Core and the BMBF-funded Tsunami Risk. Both projects centre around tsunami warning systems and coastal preparedness from non-seismically induced tsunamis in particular. Under the co-supervision of Prof. Jan Sopaheluwakan from Universitas Indonesia and Dr. Isabelle Desportes from the KFS, Wicak's master thesis delved into the intricacies of local disaster cultures and readiness, highlighting areas of improvement and providing actionable solutions.

Crucially, ‘disaster cultures’ do not only designate customs, practices and beliefs held by coastal residents, but also by the diverse local and national government agency members involved in the tsunami warning. All of these actors play a profound role in how warnings are received and acted upon, thus important for tsunami preparedness. Labuan's 2018 tsunami vividly underscored the prevailing perceptions among varied groups, who associated tsunamis as only caused by earthquakes. While the 2018 events emphasized the need to tailor preparedness materials and warning mechanisms, overcome sectoral silos, and incorporate local knowledge and experiences into policy-making, these measures have not yet been fully implemented. Again, both structural and cultural barriers are at play. This dynamic stresses the importance of melding technological warning system advances with a deep understanding of cultural narratives.

As Wicak celebrates the successful defence of his thesis, his insights, while deeply connected to Labuan, offer valuable reflections for other communities navigating similar challenges. Building upon the thesis’s robust foundation, a research paper entitled "Disaster Cultures and the Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning System: (Mis)alignments Revealed by the 2018 Non-tectonic Tsunami in Labuan" has already been accepted for publication in the Australian Journal of Emergency Management (AJEM). 

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