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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Strengthening resilience to extreme weather related events in Indonesia through improving the predictability of drought risk within the Drought Cycle Management Model

PI: Heri Kuswanto (, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember
U.S. Partner: Justin Sheffield, Princeton University
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview

This project focuses on drought as one of the major natural hazards in Indonesia. The primary aim is to improve the predictability of drought events as part of disaster risk reduction within the framework of the Drought Cycle Management (DCM) model. The DCM has proven to be a robust and practical approach for drought management in Africa for more than 30 years, but it has never been implemented in Indonesia. Differences in drought characteristics and community profiles between Indonesia and Africa will introduce interesting challenges for formulating novel strategies towards DCM implementation. One of the challenges will be how to predict future drought events under Indonesia’s unique tropical climate variability. This project will develop a Drought Monitoring and Forecasting System (DMFS) and formulate scenarios to reduce drought risk, based on approaches previously applied by U.S. partner Dr. Sheffield and colleagues. The DMFS will be developed by drawing from methods developed by the Terrestrial Hydrology Group of Princeton University, integrated with seasonal drought forecasting derived from downscaled climate forecasts from the North America Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME)-II for predicting drought events in Indonesia.

Specifically, the goals of the project are (1) to improve the predictability of drought by developing a reliable monitoring and forecasting system; (2) to formulate a best framework for implementing a DCM model in Indonesia that incorporates local drought characteristics and community profiles; and (3) to test the effectiveness of the DCM model to reduce drought risk. To answer these questions, Dr. Kuswanto and his team will collect historical climate and hydrology data to characterize drought and use this to develop a drought prediction model based on climate prediction and statistical models. The two most vulnerable districts have been identified as the site for the pilot study for implementation of DCM: Probolinggo, East Java, and Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara Barat. They are listed as top priority districts due to their vulnerability to drought impacts. Based on participatory evaluations conducted on these two districts, statistical evidence will be evaluated to confirm the effectiveness of DCM. The U.S. collaborators will assist with the development of the DMFS for Indonesia, as well as with DCM implementation in the targeted districts. They will also provide remote sensing data required to build the system.

The Government of Indonesia (GoI) has made climate change mitigation and adaptation a national priority. Climate change resilience has been the focus of the GoI as part of the commitment to implementing the Sendai Framework for the Disaster Risk Reduction Framework. Climate change resilience has also become one of the focuses of the USAID mission in Indonesia. This PEER project supports these interests by focusing on a parallel strategy to strengthen extreme weather and climate resilience. The Meteorological Office Indonesia (BMKG) issues drought information from a simple monitoring system but with very low predictive capacity and hence drought forecasts have never been made properly. Moreover, the provided drought information is difficult for smallholders and communities to access directly, which has led to lack of actions to reduce the risk. Therefore, the DMFS coupled with an effective strategy for easy access to information by communities/smallholders, is urgently required. The DCM will frame how decisions are currently made at the smallholder and community levels in response to drought and determine whether decisions can be made (based on forecast information) to reduce drought risk. The project will ensure that communities and smallholders will have access to the drought information generated from the system, which is consistent with the idea of the DCM model.

Summary of Recent Activities

5-125 Andalas Award
Dr. Kuswanto (left) receives an award following his presentation and outreach at Andalas University (photo courtesy of Dr. Kuswanto).
The team’s activities during the period from April through June 2018 focused mainly on analyzing part of the NMME II dataset that had been downloaded, including data management, cleaning, and verification of skills over the Indonesia region. April 11-12, the PI Dr. Kuswanto attended the INTERMET-INTERFLOOD workshop in Singapore, a forum devoted to discussions of current development in weather forecasting, particularly extreme events such as drought and flooding worldwide. The event provided an excellent venue for networking with relevant researchers and organizational representatives. May 22-24, in his capacity as an elected representative of the Indonesian Young Science Academy, Dr. Kuswanto also participated in the Science at the Shine Dome event organized by the Australian Academy of Science. The theme of this year’s event was disasters, a topic highly relevant to the PEER project. Back at ITS, the PI and his team also worked on the questionnaire they will use for to gather meaningful information from households on how they deal with drought events in Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) and Probolinggo. To improve the quality of this aspect of the PEER project, they are collaborating with two other U.S. experts, Dr. Tara Grillos of Purdue University and Dr. Olga Wilhelmi of the University Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Dr. Grillos is an expert on human decisionmaking and behavior in the context of sustainable development, and her insights will be especially useful in the aspects of the project that address the role of women in the decision making process for coping with drought. Meanwhile, Dr. Wilhelmi is an expert on interactions among weather, climate, and society across scales, with the main emphasis on understanding societal risk, vulnerability, and adaptive capacity to extreme weather events and climate change. Thanks to intensive communications among all partners involved, the team had nearly completed the final version of the questionnaire by early July.

From June 21 to July 3, the PI and his team hosted Dr. Richard Grotjahn of the University of California, Davis, who had served on Dr. Kuswanto’s successfully completed project in PEER Cycle 2. Dr. Grotjahn presented several days of training about extreme events, particularly Madden-Julian Oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation impacts on Indonesia’s climate. He also took part in intensive discussions with ITS researchers and presented guest lectures for students and faculty. The PI reports that the training and discussion were very fruitful and contributed a great deal to improving the current PEER Cycle 5 project.

During the summer and early fall of 2018, Dr. Kuswanto and his group will continue collecting and analyzing the NMME II dataset. They will also carry out their planned field survey using questionnaires and interviews to collect data for their Drought Cycle Management (DCM) analysis. The survey is mainly designed to gather information about how households adapt to drought events, as well as to assess the vulnerability level. Moreover, the survey will also try to explore the participation of women in decision making processes related to drought coping strategies. The survey should be completed by the end of October, after which data analysis will commence. The field work will also include focus group discussions with stakeholders in the pilot regions to explore more detailed information about their perspectives on how households adapt to drought events. The researchers will also explore important questions about how effectively the information from weather forecasts is utilized by farmers to help in decision making on formulating adaptation strategy. Several additional visits to BMKG Jakarta will also be arranged to discuss more details about the system being developed as part of this project.

The PI and his students are also working on papers for three international conferences later this year. One PhD student and one Master’s student will present their work at the ISMI-ICTAS 2018: International Seminar on Mathematics in Industry & International Conference on Theoretical and Applied Statistics 2018, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur in September 2018. The PI and a collaborator from BMKG have a paper accepted for presentation at the 1st Conference of the Arabian Journal of Geosciences (CAJG 2018) in November 2018 in Tunisia. In December, the PI will attend the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, DC, during which he will meet with his U.S. partners to discuss progress on their work and continue drafting a manuscript for publication.

A paper co-authored by the PI has recently been accepted for publication in the Asian Journal of Scientific Research. It is available for download at The project website may be found at, although it continues to undergo major revision and updating.

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