Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA News) - The World Bank has provided a grant amounting to some US$12 million this year to help prevent forest fires, Chairman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Willem Rampangilei stated.

The World Bank recorded that forest and plantation fires, which had ravaged Indonesia last year, inflicted material losses worth trillions of rupiah, in addition to the operational costs involved in extinguishing the fires, Rampangilei noted here recently while attending a Movement on Prevention of Forest and Plantation Fires.

Therefore, the government is empowering the communities to help prevent forest fires, he affirmed.

Community-based preventive measures will be implemented, particularly in regions prone to forest fire disasters, he remarked.

The government will also provide adequate facilities to support the efforts.

He lauded South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin for launching the movement involving personnel of the military, police, NGO activists, and firefighters.

Recently, the BNPB reported that the government was empowering the rural communities to prevent forest fires.

"In this case, the communities are a section of the society that will take early action in any disaster," he noted while speaking at a press conference on "The Latest Disaster Mitigation Efforts."

In fire-prone regions, the rural communities must be actively involved in preventing the outbreak of fires.

To this end, the government will improve their organizational capability, increase their awareness about disaster risks, and strengthen their capability in preventing forest fires.

"Besides this, control commands will be developed at the rural to national level, so that the preventive efforts undertaken by the communities would be well-planned, coordinated, integrated, and measurable," he emphasized.

The concept is being developed based on experiences in empowering the rural communities by the regional governments, NGOs, and companies, he added.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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