Capacity Building Activities

Several measures were identified to strengthen capacity within the local community and Padang Terap's local authority. Bearing in mind that children and the elderly were the most vulnerable, a Bahaya Ayaq Bah awareness campaign was conducted in six schools within the Padang Terap district. Bahaya Ayaq Bah is a phrase in the local dialect meaning “The Dangers of Flooding.” The schools comprised Sekolah Kebangsaan Toh Puan Syarifah Hanafiah, Sekolah Kebangsaan Kurong Hitam, Sekolah Kebangsaan Padang Sanai, Sekolah Kebangsaan Kubang Palas, Sekolah Kebangsaan Kuala Nerang, and Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Bakti. These schools are among those that, in the event of a flood, would be either inundated, surrounded by flood waters, or turned into disaster relief centers. In addition to being educated on the dangers of flooding, pupils were also exposed to what needs to be done before, during, and after a flood occurs. The campaign comprised activities in the form of crossword puzzles, quizzes, and short talks on flooding, as well as an introduction to the 3S concept.

The 3S concept (Sebelum, Semasa, Selepas) was coined from the local terminology for “before,” “during,” and “after” flood occurrence. Information relating to the three stages was disseminated to the students, advising them to ascertain if their homes were vulnerable to flood, to evacuate their homes once the flood warning was issued by the authorities, and to ensure the whereabouts of each family member during the evacuation process. In addition, the students were reminded to be careful about personal protection, for example by wearing gloves during the cleaning process, and to clean and disinfect furniture and appliances thoroughly to avoid waterborne or water-related diseases.

Coping capacities are defined as the ability of a society or group, organization, or system to use its own resources to address and manage emergencies, disasters, or adverse conditions that could lead to a harmful process caused by a hazard event (UNISDR 2009). To increase the coping capacities of the local community, residents were introduced to the concept of a “flood kit.” According to the survey conducted, the local community experienced difficulty with evacuating or being rescued. Due to the high number of victims and insufficient resources, evacuation was subject to delays. In order for the locals to cope with the situation, they were encouraged to prepare a flood kit. This would consist of basic first aid items and toiletries, a flashlight, a bottle of water, food items such as instant noodles and biscuits, and a plastic folder to hold important documents. The flashlight would be useful during the night, especially if the electricity had been cut off, and the food items would tide the family over until help arrived. Every household was encouraged to prepare a flood kit for each family member.

In addition to preparing families for disaster, training was also given to the local community on handling and maintenance of rescue boats. Incorporating rescue measures and procedures, and proper usage of life vests and floatation devices, the training was conducted by the Public Defense Department, the Fire and Rescue Department, the Police Department, and the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (MADA).

Future Research and Recommendations

This project covered only certain issues identified in the survey and raised during the FGD. Other issues such as insufficient communication and long-term adaptation strategies will need to be addressed in future. Implementation of an early warning system or a flood alert is also important. Warning systems will need to be efficient to enable proper preparation for evacuation. These systems have to run without electricity and reach even the most secluded homes.

Acknowledgment We would also like to express our utmost gratitude to this project's research officer, Mr. Mohd Zulhafiz Said, and his assistants employed under the USM APEX Delivering Excellence grant, for collecting data for this project.

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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