Helping Indonesia Prepare for Disasters

October 5, 2009

  • Helping Indonesia Prepare for Disasters
  • World Bank shared knowledge on international best practice for damage and loss assessment with National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB)
  • World Bank ready to provide technical support to government-led initiatives for damage and loss assessment and recovery planning

October 2, 2009 - Once again, Indonesia is stricken by disaster. By now, it has become public knowledge that an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale rocked West Sumatra, killing an estimated 1,100 people and leaving thousands more trapped in rubble.This marks the largest disaster to strike Sumatra Island since a tsunami devastated parts of Aceh province in 2004.

In the case of Aceh, the World Bank's role in helping with the reconstruction and rehabilitation effort has been well documented.Drawing from its experience in facilitating community-driven development, the World Bank supported the efforts of the Aceh Reconstruction Authority (BRR) and other partners to help Acehnese communities redesign and rebuild their homes, as well as remap the very lay-out of their communities.Homes were made quake-proof, local facilities were improved - Aceh was built back better by the Acehnese themselves.Refining the lessons learned from Aceh, an even better and less expensive community-led response was applied in the aftermath of the 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake which killed 7,000 people.

Indonesia itself is on much stronger footing - legally and institutionally - as it enters this new cycle.In 2007, Indonesia issued Law No.24 on Disaster Management which sets the legal framework for the coordination of disaster management efforts, the management of related funds, as well as the involvement of international agencies and NGOs.In 2008, Indonesia established the National Agency for Disaster Management (Badan Penanggulangan Bencana Nasional or BNPB), replacing and revamping the former National Coordinating Agency for Disaster Management (Badan Kordinasi Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana).The new agency's mandate extends beyond coordinating emergency relief efforts to encompass all phases of pre-disaster prevention and preparedness and post-disaster recovery.The fact that fatalities and damages in the last string of earthquakes were still high demonstrates the challenge in prevention, but at the same time the opportunity to build more resilient communities through reconstruction.

In helping strengthen the BNPB, the World Bank shared knowledge on methods of estimating damage and loss - often the first thing the World Bank helps out with after a natural disaster, to get a clearer picture of recovery and reconstruction needs.The standard methodology for damage and loss assessment (often referred to as DaLA) was first developed in the 1970s by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC), and has since been strengthened, simplified and customized for application in different parts of the world.The methodology looks at:

how much it would cost to replace the physical assets that were totally or partially destroyed

how much an economy stands to lose as a result of the damaged assets and disrupted activities

how a disaster would ultimately affect a country's economic growth, its government's fiscal position and balance of payments, and more importantly the people's livelihood

The BNPB's newly acquired knowledge in damage and loss assessment was immediately put to use in March 2009 when the dam surrounding Situ Gintung - an artificial lake on the outskirts of Jakarta - burst due to heavy rains and poor maintenance, flooding a nearby residential area and killing 98 people.Collaborating with the Muhammadiyah University (run by Indonesia's second largest Islamic organization), the BNPB coordinated the first government-led damage and loss assessment effort since its establishment.

Disaster then struck again in September 2009, when 7.0 magnitude quake in West Java killed 79 people and displaced over 210,000 others.By this time, BNPB was ready to take charge of the DaLA.

“At the time of the West Java earthquake, the BNPB had already begun training local governments on assessing damage, losses and early recovery needs like providing temporary shelter, education and health facilities, as well as long term recovery efforts," said Iwan Gunawan, the World Bank's Disaster Risk Management Adviser in Jakarta.“The Indonesian Government did not seek international assistance on this disaster considering its relatively modest magnitude and impact and the increasing capacity of BNPB and the local governments "

Given the severity of the West Sumatra quake, however, Indonesia has opened its doors to international assistance while still maintaining a strong leadership and coordinating role.Following discussions with BNPB and the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), the World Bank will be providing technical support to government-led initiatives for damage and loss assessment and recovery planning.

Why is the World Bank involved in Disaster Risk Management?

The World Bank's focus on damage and loss assessment in the wake of natural disasters is very much in line with its overall mission to fight poverty and build resilient community.Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits - more than 95 percent of all deaths caused by disasters occur in developing countries; and losses due to natural disasters (as a percentage of GDP) are 20 times greater in developing countries than in industrialized countries.

Poorly planned development can turn a recurring natural phenomenon into a human and economic disaster.Allowing dense populations on a floodplain or permitting poor or unenforced building codes in earthquake zones increases the likelihood of a natural event to cause casualties and losses.It is often stated that earthquakes don't kill people, poorly constructed buildings do.Similarly, allowing the degradation of natural resources increases the risk of a disaster.

In this connection, the World Bank's Disaster Risk Management team aims to reduce human suffering and economic losses caused by natural and technological disasters.The Disaster Risk Management team does this by helping government agencies, World Bank teams and other development counterparts to be more strategic and responsive to potential disasters by integrating disaster prevention and risk reduction efforts into the range of regular development activities.Making development investment more disaster proof will only marginally increase the cost but will save lives and prevent unnecessary destruction.Please send an email to the Disaster Risk Management team at drm@worldbank.org with questions you may have about its services and products that support World Bank clients, projects, and programs.

PNPM Bridges Survive the Earthquake

In the flattened area where all houses are disappeared because of the earthquake that hit Padang (Indonesia) on September 30, 2 bridges built under PNPM Mandiri Perdesaan (MP) survive the disaster.

The first bridge - located in Jorong Larah Nan Panjang, Nagari (village) Tandikek, Sub-district Patamuan, District Padang Pariaman - now becomes the only infrastructure left after the earthquake.The bridge connected 3 villages but all villages are buried now.The floor of the bridge is bent but in general the bridge can still be used.The foothold of the bridge was planted strongly obeying good quality of technical construction and the use of concrete as the material apparently protect the bridge from fatal consequences.As seen in the photo, Director General and Director of Institution and Training of PMD (Pemberdayaan Masyarakat Desa or Village Community Empowerment) who visited the hit location on October 11, were crossing the villages through the bridge.

The second bridge is in Jorong Ujuang Labuang, Sub-district Tanjung Mutiara, District Agam.The shaking swayed the bridge and bent the main supporting wires to the bridge.As the consequence, the bridge floor is wavy. Since the wood floor was powerfully tied and the bond between the floor and the main wire is strong, the bridge is not collapsed.

The bridge in Jorong Larah Nan Panjang was built by TPK (Tim Pengelola Kegiatan or Project Implementation Team) PNPM Mandiri MP and local community in 2007, using fund Rp 185.220.000. The construction of this 60-meter bridge was completed in 2008.Meanwhile, the second bridge in Ujuang Labuang - with 90-meters length - was finalized this year and used fund Rp 248.683.000.

About PNPM Mandiri

PNPM (Program Nasional Pemberdayaan Masyarakat or the National Program for Community Empowerment) Mandiri is a program launched by the Indonesian Government in 2007 to alleviate poverty.  It is a community-driven development program that covers the whole 33 provinces.