05.03.2018 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

The Heritage Cities of George Town and Semarang Old Town Prepare a Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy to Enhance Site Protection against Disasters

National Workshops “Harmonizing Coordination to Implement Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Strategy in the Heritage City”

PENANG, 2 MARCH 2018. From 26 February to 2 March 2018, UNESCO Office Jakarta collaborated with the heritage management offices of George Town World Heritage Site and Semarang Old Town in holding two National Workshops. Entitled “Harmonizing Coordination to Implement Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Strategy in the Heritage City”, these national workshops aimed to develop a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategy to minimize damages and disruption caused by disasters to these two historic cities with generous financial support of the Malaysian Funds-in-Trust.

The National Workshop began in Semarang as a collaborative work between UNESCO, Semarang Old Town Management Board (BPK2L) and Catholic University of Soegijapranata, from 26-27 February 2018 at the Oudetrap Building in Semarang Old Town. Prior to the national workshop, a baseline report was developed with the involvement of the local communities. The document analyzed the major disaster threats facing Semarang Old Town, its vulnerability, exposure also gaps in the existing disaster management system. In order to receive feedbacks and recommendations from the policy makers and institutions, the report was presented to a group of more than 70 people, a double of expected number of participants, representing the national and local government authorities, civil society organizations and academics.

Flood, fire, land subsistence, earthquake and vandalism/looting were identified as the major disaster threats facing Semarang Old Town. The participants actively discussed the gaps in the existing disaster management system for each of these hazards from the point of view of policies, institutional coordination, availability of technical guidelines, community education and research needs. At the end of the workshop, they produced a set of 5 priority actions for each type of hazard. Recommendations include the need to conduct vulnerability assessment of historic buildings in the area, formulation of policy/regulation on disaster mitigation with attention to historical structures, mapping of ground water situation and soil character in the old town area and assessment of alternative fresh water resources.

The National Workshop continued in Penang, from 1-2 March 2018 at the Bayview George Town Hotel, in collaboration with George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) and Think City. Similarly to Semarang, the workshop was an opportunity to collect views on the micro and macro issues of the George Town from multiple stakeholders including Penang State government, building/business owners, civil society organizations and residents as a basis of the future DRR strategy.

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