Banda Aceh, TDMRC. The Tsunami and Disaster Mitigation Research Center of Syiah Kuala University (TDMRC-Unsyiah), Banda Aceh, has once again organized its Annual International Workshop and Expo on the Sumatra Tsunami Disaster and Recovery (AIWEST-DR).  This year, the event enters its fifth year with the theme, “Strengthening Regional Communities’ Disaster Resilience: the Role of Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Research Institutions.”

This theme was conveyed by the chairman of the AIWEST-DR 2010 executive committee, Dr. Nasaruddin, on Tuesday (23/11), in the opening speech of the conference.  The theme of the 2010 workshop will become a broad basis for development of themes to be used in coming workshops, in order to give input on the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction of tsunami-affected areas and to make this process better and faster.  This workshop will also provide greater insight for relevant institutions in understanding individual roles and responsibilities.

This year, it is hoped that the 5th AIWEST-DR will result in strengthening regional cooperation for community disaster preparedness between the government, NGOs, and research institutions related to disaster risk reduction and applications of science and technology.  It is hoped that the results of this workshop can be used by the government and society in anticipation of future natural disasters.  This workshop is also intended to result in integration of strategic aspects to realize coordination between and strengthening of the regional community, prioritizing the active participation of society in conducting disaster-preparedness activities.

It has been almost six years since the terrifying earthquake and tsunami disaster that struck Indonesia and other countries verging on the Indian Ocean.  This disaster caught the attention of the world, which responded quickly by reconstructing and rehabilitating the areas stricken by the disaster.  Aceh Province was the closest land mass to the source of the earthquake and tsunami, and was most heavily hit by the tsunami.

After the reconstruction process, the government and the people of Aceh still have a long journey ahead of them to prepare to face future disasters.  One way of learning from this catastrophe is by scientific meetings of disaster experts such as those organized by TDMRC, which have become a regular occurrence in the form of the International Workshop, AIWEST-DR 2010.

The 2010 workshop was attended by more than 300 local and international participants, and 80 papers were presented related to disaster, disaster effects, the rehabilitation process, and lessons learned from the entire experience.

The first International Workshop carried out by Unsyiah, BRR – NAD/Nias, and Kobe University in 2006 gave enlightenment and spirit to this newly-formed disaster mitigation community.  Over the course of time, this event has continued to develop every year until its current incarnation as AIWEST-DR 2010.  This development has been welcomed by national and international disaster experts, who have given their support and commitment to help build a legacy at TDMRC-Unsyiah and to create a society that is aware, prepared, and able to withstand disaster.

AIWEST-DR 2010 was opened by the Rector of UnSyiah, Prof. Darni M. Daud, and attended by Prof. Yasuo Tanaka (Kobe University, Japan), Dr. M. Dirhamsyah (TDMRC-Unsyiah), and Prof. Louise Comfort, (University of Pittsburgh, USA), who was the keynote speaker on the topic “Designing Resilience for Communities at Risk.”