Emergency Preparedness

The islands off the western coast of Sumatra sit above one of the world’s most vulnerable seismic regions. Earthquakes are a constant threat, and in their wake is the high potential for earthquake-generated tsunamis.

We work together with communities and local government to prepare for a response to disasters. We have delivered four Emergency Preparedness programs in the islands off the Western Coast of Sumatra and on the Sumatran mainland since 2005, the latest program being completed in May 2014.


We provide a mix of practical support, education and promotion that aims to significantly increase the resilience and emergency preparedness of communities. They need to know how to respond if affected by a disaster, and they need to identify their key strengths in order to quickly recover from the effects of natural disaster. Being better prepared equates directly to saving lives.

Our targeted and adaptable practical support includes the provision of small grants for community emergency mitigation projects and communication networks. These small projects include evacuation routes, evacuation shelters and communal kitchens. We only provide materials that are not locally available. All other materials are gathered and contributed by the community to ensure their ownership and the sustainability of the facilities.

Practical Support

Evacuation Routes

We develop a village disaster plan, including evacuation roads and sites, with the community. Everyone in the village needs to know what to do on their own to protect themselves in case of disaster, and they need to know where to go to survive a tsunami.

Evacuation Drills

Regular drills are undertaken by the community after the disaster plan has been implemented. These activities are also implemented at the school level, with schools identified as the gateway to the wider community.


We use a traveling cinema to educate communities on the need for community-based disaster management. The communities then get involved in question and answer sessions after the film screening.

Education & Promotion

Practical support is a good start but not enough to ensure people adopt new behaviours. We train local government staff in emergency management, and emergency team volunteers and community members on how to manage during and after emergencies through emergency drills, training and school programs.

Emergency Response

Despite never being established as an emergency response organisation, SurfAid has responded to five large emergencies – the Indian Ocean tsunami (December 2004), Nias earthquake (March 2005), Mentawai earthquakes (September 2007), Padang earthquake (September 2009) and the Mentawai tsunami (October 2010).

Due to our strong relationships with the local surf charter industry we have been able to mobilise emergency supplies quickly and efficiently to get aid to stricken villagers, often through wild and dangerous seas.