Yogyakarta- Sabo dams that are built along the upper course of rivers on Mount Merapi do not only serve to hold the cold lava flow, but also minimize bigger losses due to lava flood. Although the Merapi eruption last year damaged almost all dams, making them overloaded with lava, the government has not planned to build new dams any time soon.
"The budget has been proposed for, the master plan has been prepared, but the construction is done in stages," Minister of Public Works, Dr. (HC) Ir. Djoko Kirmanto, Dipl.H.E., told reporters on the sidelines of the opening of National Seminar on Sediment Flow Management, which was held by Master of Natural Disaster Management, Faculty of Engineering on Monday afternoon (12/9). On that occasion, the Minister was accompanied by UGM Rector, Prof. Ir. Sudjarwadi, M. Eng., Ph.D., director of SABO International Institute of Japan Sabo Association, Yoshifumi Hara, and representative of JICA Indonesia, Motofumi Kohara.
Djoko added that the existing sabo dams are the result of construction that is done every ten years. The construction is still conducted in stages though the Merapi eruptions occur in a span of 100 years. "This is a project which is done every ten years. However, the amount of eruption’s materials last year exceeded the capacity of sabo dams. At least, the capacity can highly reduce the eruption’s impacts on the victims," he said.
According to the Minister, the utilization of sabo technology is not only built around Mount Merapi, but also in some mountains that erupt frequently, such as Mount Kelud, Semeru, and Galunggung. "The technology is still functioning up to now," he said.
Related to humans, all socio-engineering sciences needs to be done, human approach needs to be done. Studying local wisdom in the area is necessary to do for sabo technology at Merapi, Kelud, and Semeru. Not only building structures in disaster management, according to the Minister, his office in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Forestry and Ministry of Environment implement disaster mitigation programs in controlling impacts of water hazard. "We don’t just build physical infrastructures, but also raise public awareness in the ability to face disasters," he said.
Director of International SABO Institute, Yoshifumi Hara, said that the sabo technology applied in several volcanoes in Indonesia is the realization of cooperation between Indonesia and Japan which has lasted for 40 years. "One of which is the application of sediments technology, which has very encouraging results," he said.
According to Yoshifumi, Indonesia and Japan are two countries that cannot escape from disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. However, the important thing to do is to work together and share experiences to protect life and property. "I think the use of sabo technology needs to be improved for disaster mitigation," he said.
Meanwhile, the Rector welcomes the result of the cooperation undertaken by the Ministry of Public Works and JICA. In addition to the sabo technology, ten years ago, both institutions also initiated the founding of Magister program in Natural Disasters Management at UGM.