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FEATURE STORY

Measuring Merapi's Losses

November 24, 2010


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • World Bank supports an increasingly stronger National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) assessing damage and losses at volcano-affected areas of Mount Merapi
  • More losses expected than damages due to magnitude of eruption and exposed population at Mount Merapi
  • Block grants from existing community development projects in affected areas likely to be reallocated for immediate needs

Mount Merapi, Central Java, November 24, 2010 – Rows and rows of freshly grown chilies and tomatoes ripe for the picking – and selling – are now completely destroyed by inches of volcanic dust and debris. Had Mount Merapi not reacted so violently and frequently in those few weeks of October, these crops from this small farm in the valley of the volcano could have generated a modest income of one to two million rupiah (roughly between one to two hundred dollars), which in this quiet little village is enough to keep the stoves burning for up to two months.

“We still have to wait about 2 weeks before we can start digging up the soil, but even then it would still be a while before we start seeing any results,” said chili farmer Porijan in mid November, some weeks after the volcanic dust had literally settled, though still at a time when Merapi kept volcanologists on their toes. “We could really use some (financial) help in getting this clean-up started.”

After lying dormant for four years, Mount Merapi sprang back into action in late October 2010, driving thousands living around it to seek refuge in safer grounds as hot clouds moved through villages, in some cases burning homes to cinders and in the most unfortunate of cases, claiming the lives of at least 300 people.

Porijan is one of thousands who lost his livelihood to Merapi. How much would it cost for him to get back on his feet? What’s the extent of damage to other sectors? How many houses were destroyed, how many have to be relocated completely? What kind of local businesses are suffering as a direct consequence to Merapi? These are the types of questions Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) need to address to understand how a natural disaster has affected the country or affected-area’s economy, as well as how it’s impacting individuals and households.

In the long process of post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation, the damage and loss assessment – or “DALA” as it is often referred to – counts as “square one”. In this regard, the World Bank has been working to strengthen the BNPB’s capacity in collecting data from the field, establishing baselines and developing credible assessments and recovery plans. Even as the Merapi situation continued to unfold, the BNPB showed great initiative by getting a headstart in the data collection process

Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist Iwan Gunawan, who led the DALA team in Merapi, says “There are lessons learned from every disaster, but Mount Merapi is especially new to us in two senses: first, the eruption this time is actually quite large and extensive compared to what the case has been historically, and secondly, in recent years there’s been an increase in population around the Merapi slopes. So with those two factors combined, the economic losses are likely to be large, due to disrupted economic activity in agriculture, trade, and several other sectors.”

The village of Desa Kepuhrejo, situated within a ten kilometer radius of Merapi’s summit, is one of the several affected areas covered under Indonesia’s REKOMPAK (Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of Communities and Housing) program – part of the larger PNPM Mandiri (National Program for Community Empowerment) program, supported by the World Bank. Hot clouds 600 to 800 degrees Celsius moved through the village, scorching the earth and reducing a large number of homes to its basic skeletal frame. REKOMPAK block grants allocated for affected villages like Desa Kepuhrejo are likely to be reallocated for the immediate needs of village communities. Program facilitators have already jumpstarted the process by rounding up beneficiaries at refugee camps and discussing their needs.

“On the very day the government says it is safe for (beneficiaries) to return to their villages, the trained facilitators should be here on the field, rounding up beneficiaries, leading them in consultation , finding out what they need, preparing the community settlement plans and allocating the block grants. The program can make a jump start by allocating grant for labor intensive works.” said Lead Municipal Engineer George Soraya after scanning the extent of damage at Desa Kepuhrejo.

Starting from helping Aceh and Yogyakarta to rebuild after the disasters there, the World Bank has continued to support the Indonesian government in building its Disaster Risk Management systems and capacity at various levels. In more recent disasters like the Padang earthquake and Mentawai Island tsunami, the World Bank supported government by helping BNPB implement damage and loss assessments and mobilize projects already on the ground. A full damage and losses assessment report jointly produced by the BNPB and World Bank will be issued in the weeks to come.

“On the very day the government says it is safe for (beneficiaries) to return to their villages, the trained facilitators should be here on the field, rounding up beneficiaries, leading them in consultation , finding out what they need, preparing the community settlement plans and allocating the block grants. The program can make a jump start by allocating grant for labor intensive works.” said Lead Municipal Engineer George Soraya after scanning the extent of damage at Desa Kepuhrejo.

Starting from helping Aceh and Yogyakarta to rebuild after the disasters there, the World Bank has continued to support the Indonesian government in building its Disaster Risk Management systems and capacity at various levels. In more recent disasters like the Padang earthquake and Mentawai Island tsunami, the World Bank supported government by helping BNPB implement damage and loss assessments and mobilize projects already on the ground. A full damage and losses assessment report jointly produced by the BNPB and World Bank will be issued in the weeks to come.

World Bank Disaster Management Programs in Indonesia

Supporting post-disaster reconstruction. Immediately following the December 2004 tsunami, the World Bank mobilized a team consisting of experts from different sectors to help government and other partners fully assess damage and losses. An office was established in Banda Aceh, and its facilities could be used by all donors working in the province. The World Bank mobilized over US$700 million in commitments from 15 donors in support of a Multi-Donor Fund for Aceh and Nias (under World Bank administration). Lessons from Aceh were also applied successfully to Yogyakarta and Central Java’s reconstruction, following the May 2006 earthquake.

Building the capacity of Disaster Risk Management agencies. Reconstructions are sources of lessons for building better preparedness of communities and government agencies in reducing the impact of and responding to future disasters. After the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Indonesia enacted a new Law on Disaster Management (Law 24/2007) that outlines the principles, division of labor, organization and implementation of the national disaster management system, including the role of international organizations. With funding from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, the World Bank is working together with other international development agencies, and provincial and local governments in building a pool of national and local expertise in damage and losses assessment, vulnerability analysis, as well as in disaster and climate resilient development planning.

Building resilient infrastructure. Indonesia is one of the leading countries in implementing large Community Driven Development through the government’s National Community Empowerment Program (PNPM). Investment in infrastructure that increases the ability to adapt to disasters such as for flood prevention, water retention and storage facility, slope stabilization to prevent landslides as well as building of emergency evacuation routes has been made using the community driven development approach taking advantage of additional Technical Assistance to regular sectoral projects. Disaster Risk Reduction investment is also being included in sectors such as transport (road development), restoration and expansion of drainage in cities, as well as in water supply and utility network development.

Facilitate broader dialogue on Disaster Risk Management policy. Being a disaster prone country it would be critical for Indonesia to have a comprehensive policy taking into account the ability to adapt to disasters in its development strategy. The World Bank is supporting Bappenas and line ministries as well as provincial and local governments in drawing up the new National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction for 2010-2012 under the framework of National Medium Term Development Plan (RPJM) for 2010-2014. As part of this process, key officials and concerned parties from various ministries and organizations were brought together to discuss and agree on priority policies and programs to build Indonesia’s resilience to disaster.

 


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