Contact Us  |  Search  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Applicants For Grant Recipients Funded Projects Email Updates
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

One of the working groups in Dr. Kuswanto’s project began calibrating NMME forecasts in April 2017, while another group worked on extreme value analysis. Calibrating NMME forecasts requires collection and processing of both forecast data (from 5 models) and observation datasets, and the process for even collecting and converting the data is complicated. On April 26, Dr. Kuswanto and his team hosted a visit by a delegation from USAID/Jakarta headed by Mission Director Erin McKee, accompanied by Consul General Heather Variava from the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya. The meeting was very fruitful, as the PI and his group introduced their project and presented information on the challenges they face, as well as the opportunities offered for the young team members.

In May and June, while data analysis and validation continued, team members also helped to present a training workshop on the data assimilation software Phyton for members of the Department of Statistics at ITS. On May 8, the PI attended the National Meeting of the Association of Experts on Disaster Indonesia (IABI) in Jakarta. He has been appointed as a member of a key committee for IABI’s East Java Chapter. The following day, he attended a workshop on climate change in Indonesia, and on May 18 he presented a training session on proposal writing for lecturers and students at the Tadulako University Palu Sulawesi.

From July 3-13, Dr. Kuswanto visited his U.S. partner Prof. Justin Sheffield while the latter is on a sabbatical in the UK at the University of Southampton. The visit has given the two colleagues an opportunity for extended intensive discussions about their project, including comparing the performance of the NMME forecasts with the statistical model-based forecast approach used by BMKG. In particular, Dr. Kuswanto has learned more about the NMME dataset and the drought monitoring system operated by Dr. Sheffield’s group at Princeton. Based on the results of discussions during the visit, the PEER team will work on some points that are most feasible for further study, including the performance of individual NMME forecasts. Plans for field validation survey work were also developed.

The PI reports that Prof. Edvin Aldrian, his initial collaborator at BMKG Jakarta, has moved to BPPT, the Agency for Technology Assessment and Application. Nevertheless, a new policy contact in BMKG management has been made in the person of Dr. Dodo Gunawan, director of Center for Climate Change. Dr. Gunawan has been briefed on the project and has indicated that he looks forward to receiving the results of the project, namely the planned Drought Monitoring and Forecasting System, to support BMKG’s ongoing operational work.

During the late summer and fall of 2017, main project activities will be focused on data analysis (BMA calibration) and other related issues. September 15-19, the U.S. co-partner Prof. Amir Aghakouchak from the University of California, Irvine will visit the project to take part in several planned activities, including training for team members on a specific methodology. In early October, U.S. partner Prof. Sheffield will also visit Indonesia. During his stay, he will collaborate with the PI and his team on a field survey to Lombok Tengah and take part in a meeting with BMKG Jakarta.

Back to PEER Cycle 5 Grant Recipients