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Risk reduction at the “Last-Mile”: an attempt to turn science into action by the example of Padang, Indonesia


More than ever before, the last decade revealed the immense vulnerability of the world’s cities to natural hazards. Neither the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, the hurricane Katrina in 2005, the cyclone Nargis in 2008 nor the earthquakes in Sichuan in 2008 or in Haiti 2010 found the people, the city administrations or the national or international organizations well prepared in the advent of anticipated but to a large extent disregarded natural disasters. It is evident that the lack of tailor-made disaster management plans and standard operational procedures are often the crucial point in proper risk reduction approaches. This study presents an approach to transfer knowledge of an extensive multidisciplinary scientific study on risk identification into recommendations for risk reduction strategies. The study has been conducted by means of a combination of experts from different scientific communities coming from civil and coastal engineering, remote sensing, social sciences, evacuation modelling and capacity development. The paper presents the results of this research approach and interweaves key findings with recent experiences from an eyewitness on a previous hazard event. Thus, necessary tsunami hazard and vulnerability information as well as valuable insights into preparedness activities have been derived for initiating updated infrastructural designs and practical recommendations for emergency management as well as strategic spatial planning activities at the local scale. The approach was applied in the context of tsunami early warning and evacuation planning in the coastal city of Padang, Western Sumatra, Republic of Indonesia.

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The authors would like to thank the DFG/BMBF special Programme “Geotechnologies”—Early Warning Systems in Earth Management. Sponsorship Code: 03G0643A-E. We would also like to thank our partners in Padang Indonesia from Andalas University and the city municipality of Padang.

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Taubenböck, H., Goseberg, N., Lämmel, G. et al. Risk reduction at the “Last-Mile”: an attempt to turn science into action by the example of Padang, Indonesia. Nat Hazards 65, 915–945 (2013).

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  • Risk
  • Vulnerability
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Engineering
  • Remote sensing
  • Evacuation modelling
  • Tsunami
  • Natural hazards