Estimating the Flood, Landslide, and Heavy Rainfall Susceptibility of Vaccine Transportation after 2021 Flooding in South Kalimantan Province, Indonesia

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Estimating the Flood, Landslide, and Heavy Rainfall Susceptibility of Vaccine Transportation after 2021 Flooding in South Kalimantan Province, Indonesia


1. Introduction

Flooding has been one of the most common and costly hazards over the last decade, resulting in significant losses in both lives and economic costs [1]. In the context of transportation, flooding has caused road network damage and transportation system closures as well as delays, disruptions, and finally, economic losses [2]. Since transportation systems are required for society to function [3], any disruption of these systems endangers safety and security and can result in significant financial loss and generate direct and indirect adverse consequences, including losing access to essential services [4].
Transportation susceptibility, including assessing the likelihood of disruption, has received increased attention. Several studies have looked into the effects of flooding on transportation disruptions [5], such as assessing transportation network exposure to coastal tsunami-induced disruptions [6], learning from weather event dynamics to assess transportation resilience [7], and modelling the impacts of tornado and hurricane wind-induced flooding on transportation networks. To assist the transportation susceptibility assessment, the use of geographic information system (GIS) analysis is required, which has been used. Transportation has played an important role in pandemic mitigation through vaccination distribution [8], and the assessment of the impacts of disaster magnitude in the form of flooding on vaccine distribution is required immediately.
An important measure to address the pandemic is through vaccinations. The COVID-19 local transmission rates can be mitigated by increasing vaccination coverage. At the same time, the expansion of vaccination coverage depends on vaccine transport. Nature, in the form of extreme rainfall, which leads to extreme floods, has caused a burden on vaccine coverage. The disruptions to vaccine transport due to nature’s causes, in this case, flood events, have been widely reported. In January 2021, storm-induced flooding in the United Kingdom threatened the vaccine factory in Wrexham, North Wales. In February 2021, The Federal Emergency Management Agency identified a major winter storm continuing to spread from the Southern Plains into the Northeast that had the potential to cause significant vaccine distribution disruptions as winter weather extended from Maine to Texas and into the South [9].
In March 2021, it was reported that widespread flooding had disrupted the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in Australia. This flooding was caused by the overflowing of water from rivers. High rainfall led to potential flooding and caused the closure of transportation networks ranging from trains to roads in New South Wales (NSW) state. As a result, the flood prevented the vaccines’ delivery to respiratory clinics and some general practitioners across regional NSW. Similar disruptions in vaccine transport have been observed in Asian regions; the Asian continent has experienced floods due to monsoon torrential rains. In India [10], monsoon rains have caused vaccine transport disruptions and disruptions to people’s access to the nearest health facilities to obtain vaccinations.
Current studies have highlighted how natural disasters can potentially disrupt the supply chain of medical logistics, in which the impacts on the supply chain can be classified as direct costs, indirect costs, and secondary effects [11]. Within the medical supply chain and particularly for vaccine distribution, the vaccines can be directly damaged due to the exposure on the roads. Related to the indirect cost, this can disturb the root levels of health facilities that manage and provide the vaccine at grass-roots levels. For secondary effects, delayed vaccine distributions can lead to an epidemic among unprotected people and accelerate the spread of the disease. Learning from past Hurricane Maria [12], this meteorological disaster caused at least 17% of the population to have no access to medications. This disaster hindered the transportation of urgent medical supplies, including dialysis equipment. Regarding the natural hazard disruptions on vaccine transportation, De Boeck et al. [13] has estimated the loss of vaccination coverage due to these disruptions: using GIS and spatial modelling, it was estimated that 37% more facilities are being affected by this flooding.

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Indonesia started in January 2020. At the time, the vaccination campaign was primarily aimed at the elderly. The vaccination program for the public started in June 2021. From June to 21 October 2021, the vaccination rate in South Kalimantan Province only reached 34.37% for the first dose and 20.53% for the second dose. As of December 2021, the coverage of dose 1 vaccination in South Kalimantan province reached 62.02%. This figure equals 1.96 million vaccine participants from the set target of 3.16 million people. Meanwhile, for the second dose of vaccination until recently, 38.21% of the target was achieved. Despite this achievement, the dose 1 and 2 vaccination rates in South Kalimantan Province are still below the average vaccination coverages at the provincial level.

Vaccines are distributed to local health facilities in Indonesia via land transportation. To transport the vaccine, a medium-sized truck that has a custom-made box container is used. This container has an air conditioner since the vaccine transport requires a low temperature. The truck used was a medium-sized one that has a low ground clearance of 25 cm, and this makes the truck vulnerable in flood areas. If the vehicle passes through the flood, it will be submerged. Another issue is that South Kalimantan has a limited road network and does not have other ways or routes if the selected routes were submerged.

In January 2021, floods and landslides occurred in South Kalimantan Province, Indonesia and impacted 11 of the 13 districts and cities. Water levels were varied and ranged from 30 cm to 50 cm, and 2 m to even 3 m. The floods occurred from 9 January to 29 January, or 20 days, as a result of the Martapura River’s overflow, high rainfall, and environmental degradation. This heavy flood likely occurred due to similar events that occurred in 1928. Flooding was associated with high rainfall intensity, which triggered an overflow of river water beginning 9 January 2021. In another nearby location, the Lulut River, located 1 km from the Martapura River, there was also a flood in 2006, but only a foot. In 2021, floods occurred frequently in March, May, August, September, and November of that year.

Floods in January 2021 in South Kalimantan were caused by multiple causal factors of natural and anthropogenic origins. Prior to the floods, South Kalimantan experienced extreme weather conditions [14]. The movement of water vapor supply from the East Pacific to the West Pacific (known as La Niña) as well as the sea surface temperature, which was warmer than normal, resulted in more significant activity for the formation of rain clouds in Indonesia, especially in the South Kalimantan area. In addition, the presence of closed wind eddies around Kalimantan resulted in the formation of a convergence area in the Java Sea off the southern and eastern parts of Kalimantan. This condition had the potential to increase the mass of water vapor from the Java Sea, which caused the growth of massive convective clouds around South Kalimantan. As a result, in January 2021, the rainfall increased from as low as 15.9 mm to as high as 255.3 mm [15].

The South Kalimantan floods were also driven by land use changes from intact rainforests to plantations that are very vulnerable to floods. For the period of 2010–2020, there was a decline in the area of primary forest by 13,000 hectares and secondary forest by 116,000 hectares, which resulted in the plantation area expansion being sized at 219,000 hectares. In total, 304,225 hectares of intact forest were converted into oil palm plantations between 2001 and 2019.

The floods in South Kalimantan caused a great loss. It was estimated that 633,273 people were affected, 135,656 families were displaced, 46 people died, and 123,410 houses were flooded due to this flood. In regard to transportation effects, the floods disrupted the South Kalimantan trans highway networks that connected the district within South Kalimantan Province to other provinces [16].

Despite growing research on disaster assessments in transportation, our understanding of how disasters can impact specific routes of vaccine transportation is still limited. This information is very crucial, especially for a country such as Indonesia that is threatened equally by meteorological and hydrological hazards. At the same time, the government of Indonesia has used those routes within disaster-prone areas to transport the COVID-19 vaccine to remote areas. A lack of immediate assessments on how the vaccine route is prone to multi-hazard risks can cause a significant delay in COVID-19 nationwide mitigations and responses activities.

This research is intended to capture the transportation-related challenges that impeded COVID-19 vaccine distributions during Indonesia’s vaccine rollout, particularly in South Kalimantan Province, which was simultaneously affected by floods and landslides due to the rainfall. The novelty of this study is that it utilizes GIS, which included multi-hazards of flood, rainfall, and landslides and analyzed the combined impacts of those multi-hazards on COVID-19 distributions. Our study focused on addressing three main questions. First, how far have floods, rainfall, and landslides affected the length of primary road networks? Second, how several vaccine recipients will be impacted? Third, which districts will be impacted the most? The results will contribute significantly to plan future COVID-19 vaccine transportation distribution with a maximized coverage area and with the least distribution cost.

4. Discussion

In general, the landslide risks were caused by several factors, ranging from the hydrology aspect (water level changes, ground water changes, stream erosion), the meteorology aspect (rainfall, snowmelt), the geology aspect (earthquakes, volcano eruptions), the anthropogenic aspect (lack of vegetation covers due to deforestation), or any combination of these factors. Like other parts of Indonesia, the landslides in this study, as reported by current studies [20], were mostly caused by the combination of slopes and a lack of vegetation cover on those slopes. The absence of vegetation on the slope was due to land clearing and deforestation activities in the forest of the Meratus Mountains. The deforestation and land clearing activities aim to provide land for agricultural purposes, including plantations [21].
Roads established in mountain ranges are very vulnerable to landslides. The findings in this study are in agreement with the results from the previous study. The road network in the mountainous landscape of Scotland has 34% of the strategic road network, or 152 road segments, identified as being vulnerable to landslide activity [22]. The landslide-induced road disruption was also observed in South Asian regions, including in Lao PDR [23] and Uttarakhand. The Uttarakhand region in the Himalayan mountainous range has 22% of areas that are prone to landslides [24]. Despite the fact that the percentage of road segments vulnerable to landslides is lower in South Kalimantan, because the road connects the western and eastern parts of the island, a landslide on this road can pose a significant problem, particularly when transporting vaccines.
It is obvious that the presence of precipitation is overlapping and correlating with the flood events. In January 2021, precipitation mostly fell in the southern parts of Kalimantan, with less rainfall in the northern, central, and eastern parts. At the same time, those areas that were experiencing floods in January, particularly in the southern parts of Kalimantan, had more areas affected by floods. Similar patterns were also observed in November 2021. Areas that receive precipitation were observed in two areas. The first areas were in the southern parts, which are similar to January 2021, and other areas were observed in the northern and eastern parts. Simultaneously, floods were observed in the eastern parts of Kalimantan, and this flood was absent during the flood incident in January 2021. The correlations of precipitation with high rainfall and flood incidents as observed in this study are in agreement with previous studies [25,26]. Flood properties are related to the combination of precipitation characteristics, including intensity, or rainfall, amount, duration, and spatial distribution. Therefore, floods originated from combinations of high intensity, short-duration storms or longer duration, low-intensity rainfall. Most floods tended to occur in certain months ranging from May or June to September, which coincides with the presence of wetter months of the year, usually September, October, December, and even May.
Rainfall appears as extreme rainfall, which can also contribute to the disaster. The rainfall is categorized as heavy and extreme if it exceeds the normal rate of 250 mm/day [27]. In China, rainfall exceeding 250 mm/day and reaching a range of 350–377 mm/day led to heavy downpour and torrential rains that caused floods in 4 villages and towns and displaced 4906 people. In Indonesia, heavy rainfall occurs frequently. The presence of torrential rains is usually followed by flood disasters due to the flood area, damaged infrastructure, and a number of people affected. The occurrence and peak of heavy rainfall in January is related to the El Nina phenomenon that happens simultaneously. The peak of La Nina coincides with the peak of the rainy season in the period of January–February, causing heavy rainfall across Indonesia, and is followed by floods and landslides. The flood was caused by the overflow of the river. The overflown river then inundated lower land nearby.
Floods and landslides are not the disasters that should be considered as consequences of extreme rainfall in the context of transportation disruption. In some road networks with proper hydrology and drainage management, flooding might not be a significant issue. Due to the working drainage system and networks, the road surface will be free from inundation. Despite the lack of inundation, extreme rainfall can still disrupt transportation since the rainfall causes roads to be very slippery and even visibility is obstructed due to fog and smoke [28], and these lead to vehicle accidents [29]. Based on the study in 2008, weather-related crashes were observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, and that rainfall contributed to the 31%–111% increase in overall automobile crash rates, accompanied by injury crash rates increasing from 28% to 70% [30]. Then in 2013, it was confirmed that a combination of meteorological phenomena including precipitation [31,32] and non-meteorological events can contribute to a wide range of risks. This has raised an awareness that extreme annual rainfall in South Kalimantan should be taken into account to decrease the number of transportation accidents and crashes during vaccine distribution, considering that 12.68–22.28% of the roads in South Kalimantan receive precipitation with extreme rainfall. The relative accident risks were increased for poor road weather conditions and were also the highest for rain and slippery or very slippery road conditions [33].
This research has significantly contributed to the particular mitigation of geological disasters that bottleneck medical logistic transport and the sustainability of healthcare services in general. This study is the first that has delivered multi-hazard risks of transportation and can contribute to the mitigation of these risks. This study recommends a broader consideration of deforestation and calls for reforestation to the land area surrounding the route that has been used for transporting vaccines. A study in 2013 highlights the need for public health and transportation to be integrated, with a focus on the most vulnerable and at-risk transportation routes and operators [34].

The sustainability of pandemic management depends on the sustainability of transporting medical supplies, including vaccines. Vaccine transportation to vulnerable areas and people can only be ensured upon the mapping of the most effective and efficient vaccine distribution route that considers potential disruption risks from disasters or other natural and societal risks.

Despite the fact that this study has delivered a multi-hazard risk assessment for vulnerable vaccine transports, there are some limitations to this study. Due to the study area’s magnitude, the analysis’ measure only highlights a small number of variables that are thought to have a major influence. As a result, several variables were overlooked. First, this study has limited the types of roads. This should be incorporated into a future study since the roads in Indonesia are made of two distinct materials: asphalt and concrete. Those road materials have distinct characteristics in response to hydrology-induced disasters and will affect transport vulnerability significantly and differently. Besides the road conditions, one variable that is highly recommended to be included in the further study is the type of vaccine itself. Each vaccine has distinct characteristics and responses due to the transportation physical conditions, including temperatures and expirations. Natural disasters will lead to a significant delay in vaccine transportation, which will directly increase the exposure of vaccines to unsuitable conditions.


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