Sutopo Purwo Nugroho

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Sutopo Purwo Nugroho
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho 2017.jpg
Sutopo in 2017
Born(1969-10-07)7 October 1969
Boyolali, Central Java, Indonesia
Died7 July 2019(2019-07-07) (aged 49)
Guangzhou, China
  • Civil servant
  • academic
Organization Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB)
TitleHead of Data, Information and Public Relations Center at BNPB

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (7 October 1969 – 7 July 2019) was an Indonesian civil servant and academic who worked at the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management as its head of public relations.

The National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure, abbreviated as BNPB, is the Indonesian board for natural disaster affairs. It was established in 2008 to replace the National Disaster Management Coordinating Board. BNPB is directly responsible to the President of Indonesia and the chairman is directly appointed by the President.


An alumnus of Gadjah Mada University and Bogor Agricultural Institute, he started working for the government in 1994 before being placed at his public relations post in 2010.

Gadjah Mada University public research university in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Gadjah Mada University is a public research university located in Yogyakarta, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Officially founded on 19 December 1949, Gadjah Mada University is one of the oldest and largest institutions of higher education in the country. It has been credited as one of the most prestigious universities in Indonesia, along with the Bandung Institute of Technology and the University of Indonesia.

Government of Indonesia government

The term Government of Indonesia can have a number of different meanings. At its widest, it can refer collectively to the three traditional branches of government – the Executive branch, Legislative branch and Judicial branch. The term is also used colloquially to mean the Executive and Legislature together, as these are the branches of government responsible for day-to-day governance of the nation and lawmaking. At its narrowest, the term is used to refer to the Executive Branch in form of the Cabinet of Indonesia as this is the branches of government responsible for day-to-day governance.

Early life and education

Sutopo was born in Boyolali, Central Java, on 7 October 1969 as the first son of Suharsono Harsosaputro and Sri Roosmandari. [1] His father was a teacher. [2] He attended elementary, middle and high schools in his hometown. [3]

Central Java Province in Indonesia

Central Java is a province of Indonesia. This province is located in the middle of the island of Java. Its administrative capital is Semarang. The province is bordered by West Java in the west, the Indian Ocean and the Special Region of Yogyakarta in the south, East Java in the east, and the Java Sea in the north. The area is 32,548 km², or around 28.94% of the total area of Java. The province of Central Java also includes the island of Nusakambangan in the south, and the Karimun Jawa Islands in the Java Sea. Central Java is also a cultural concept that includes the Special Region and city of Yogyakarta as well as the Province of Central Java. However, administratively the city and its surrounding regencies have formed a separate special region since Indonesian independence, administrated separately. Central Java is known as the "heart" of Javanese culture. Even so, in this province there are also other ethnic groups that have different cultures from the Javanese, such as the Sundanese in the border area with West Java. Besides there are also Chinese-Indonesians, Arabs-Indonesians and Indian-Indonesians scattered throughout the province.

He earned his bachelor's degree in Geography from Gadjah Mada University in 1993, where he was the best graduate of the year. Later, he received his master's degree and PhD in hydrology, [4] specialising in the carbon cycle and climate change, [2] from Bogor Agricultural Institute. [4] According to Sutopo in an interview with , he nearly became a research professor in 2012 before his appointment was cancelled by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. This apparent setback led directly to his being hired as an Agency for Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) researcher working at the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB). [5]

Geography The science that studies the terrestrial surface, the societies that inhabit it and the territories, landscapes, places or regions that form it

Geography is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the word γεωγραφία was Eratosthenes. Geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but also how they have changed and come to be.

Hydrology The science of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth and other planets

Hydrology is the scientific study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth and other planets, including the water cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability. A practitioner of hydrology is a hydrologist, working within the fields of earth or environmental science, physical geography, geology or civil and environmental engineering. Using various analytical methods and scientific techniques, they collect and analyze data to help solve water related problems such as environmental preservation, natural disasters, and water management.

Carbon cycle Biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere,

The carbon cycle is the biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth. Carbon is the main component of biological compounds as well as a major component of many minerals such as limestone. Along with the nitrogen cycle and the water cycle, the carbon cycle comprises a sequence of events that are key to make Earth capable of sustaining life. It describes the movement of carbon as it is recycled and reused throughout the biosphere, as well as long-term processes of carbon sequestration to and release from carbon sinks.


Sutopo meeting President Joko Widodo in 2018. Joko Widodo Sutopo PN 2018.jpg
Sutopo meeting President Joko Widodo in 2018.

After graduating, he worked at the BPPT starting in 1994. There, he worked on cloud seeding. [6] Eventually, he reached the rank of Main Senior Researcher (Indonesian : Peneliti Senior Utama), a rank with the highest pay grade (IV/e) in the Indonesian civil servant system. [5] [7] Sutopo was also involved in a research team which discovered issues with the Situ Gintung dam in late 2008, reporting their findings to the Ministry of Public Works, which found the dam still usable. The dam broke the following March, killing more than a hundred people. [8]

Cloud seeding form of weather modification

Cloud seeding is a type of weather modification that aims to change the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, which alter the microphysical processes within the cloud. The usual intent is to increase precipitation, but hail and fog suppression are also widely practised in airports where harsh weather conditions are experienced.

Indonesian language official language of Indonesia

Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. It is a standardized register of Malay, an Austronesian language that has been used as a lingua franca in the multilingual Indonesian archipelago for centuries. Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world. Of its large population, the majority speak Indonesian, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

A pay grade is a unit in systems of monetary compensation for employment. It is commonly used in public service, both civil and military, but also for companies of the private sector. Pay grades facilitate the employment process by providing a fixed framework of salary ranges, as opposed to a free negotiation. Typically, pay grades encompass two dimensions: a "vertical" range where each level corresponds to the responsibility of, and requirements needed for a certain position; and a "horizontal" range within this scale to allow for monetary incentives rewarding the employee's quality of performance or length of service. Thus, an employee progresses within the horizontal and vertical ranges upon achieving positive appraisal on a regular basis. In most cases, evaluation is done annually and encompasses more than one method.

Later, he assisted BNPB before fully joining it in August 2010. Initially, he was the director of risk mitigation. During his first few months in the position, notable disasters included floods in West Papua, an earthquake and tsunami in Mentawai and the eruptions of Mount Merapi. He became the Head of Data Center, Information and Public Relations in November the same year. [1] [3] According to Sutopo, he refused the position three times, before accepting when the agency chief pointed out his PhD, saying that people would believe him more because of it. [9] In an interview with The New York Times , Sutopo remarked that he was not aware that he was being appointed as spokesman until he arrived at his swearing ceremony. [10]

The 2010 West Papua floods occurred on 6 October 2010 in the eastern Indonesian province of West Papua. The floods, which have centered on the town of Wasior in West Papua, resulted from heavy rains resulted in a river overflowing its banks, causing landslides.

2010 Mentawai earthquake and tsunami magnitude 7.7 earthquake

The 2010 Mentawai earthquake occurred with a moment magnitude of 7.8 on 25 October off the western coast of Sumatra at 21:42 local time. The earthquake occurred on the same fault that produced the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. It was widely felt across the provinces of Bengkulu and West Sumatra and resulted in a substantial localized tsunami that struck the Mentawai Islands.

2010 eruptions of Mount Merapi mountain in Indonesia

In late October 2010, Mount Merapi in Central Java, Indonesia began an increasingly violent series of eruptions that continued into November. Seismic activity around the volcano increased from mid-September onwards, culminating in repeated outbursts of lava and ashes. Large eruption columns formed, causing numerous pyroclastic flows down the heavily populated slopes of the volcano. Merapi's eruption was said by authorities to be the largest since the 1870s.

The Guardian referred to Sutopo as "something of a social media celebrity across the country". [2] Due to his active presence on social media during disasters, The Straits Times called him "the single most-quoted Indonesian official in the news during any disaster". [11] For his work in BNPB, he was awarded a "Public Campaigner Award" in 2014 by [12] Later in 2018, Straits Times named him as one of the Asians of the Year, along with a group of other disaster management and relief figures collectively called "The First Responders". [13]

In 2016, when the Governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, criticized the province's disaster management agency, Sutopo defended him, saying that the governor's criticism should be taken as constructive input. [14] The following year, after Basuki was arrested and imprisoned for religious blasphemy, Sutopo publicly praised the former governor on the latter's 51st birthday via Twitter for his success in reducing Jakarta's flooding. [15] Following the 2018 Sunda Strait tsunami, Sutopo made a public remark that the tsunami early warning system in Indonesia was "still far from satisfactory". [10]

ABC reported that in 2017, Sutopo was set to be rotated into another position in the agency, following its policy of staff rotation. The plan was reportedly cancelled after journalists desiring Sutopo to keep his post "bombarded [BNPB's] head with angry texts". [16]

He also taught at Bogor Agricultural Institute, University of Indonesia, and Indonesia Defence University. [5]

Personal life

Sutopo was married to Retno Utami Yulianingsih, [1] and the couple had four children. [17]

Illness and death

In 2018, Sutopo announced that he had stage IV lung cancer and was undergoing therapy. [18] Despite needing to refrain from physically intensive activities, [19] he continued to work and maintained his social media presence, providing information on events including the sinking of MV Sinar Bangun [20] and the Lombok earthquakes. [17] [21] In June 2019, he went to Guangzhou for treatment. [22] He died there on the morning of 7 July. [23]

His body was flown back and buried in his hometown of Boyolali the following day. [24]

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  2. 1 2 3 Lamb, Kate (17 November 2018). "Indonesia's love affair with its dying natural disaster spokesman". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  3. 1 2 "Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, Kepala Pusat Data, Informasi, dan Humas BNPB: Kesiapsiagaan Masyarakat terhadap Bencana Masih Rendah". Republika (in Indonesian). 3 February 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
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  16. Barker, Anne (19 January 2019). "He's spent his working life helping save people from natural disasters – now he's dying". ABC News. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
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  18. Agence France-Presse (4 October 2018). "Indonesia earthquake: Cancer-stricken disaster spokesperson battles on". Rappler . Retrieved 8 July 2019.
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