Disaster Management Reference Manual – Indonesia (December 2021) – Indonesia


Indonesia is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire and faces many natural threats, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, floods and droughts. The country registers more than 3,000 natural disasters across the country in any given year. On average, 90% or more of these events are hydrometeorological (eg, storms, tornadoes and floods); however, the other events – earthquakes and tsunamis – are generally deadlier and more damaging. In any given decade, the country can experience disasters that claim thousands of lives and displace tens of thousands of people while economic losses can total US $ 3 billion per year.

The key event that shaped the Indonesian government’s current approach to disasters was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which wreaked havoc in the western regions of the country. Since then, the country has reformed its laws, policies and institutions to better manage risk and disaster management. More robust disaster management capacities were reflected in the response to the Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami in September 2018, in which Indonesia proactively managed foreign responders, the ASEAN Coordination Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Center) playing a notable role. The 2007 Disaster Management Law laid the foundation for the National Disaster Management Agency (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana, BNPB), which is the country’s central governing body for all disaster-related activities. It coordinates preparedness, prevention, mitigation and response, and it leads and manages national disaster risk reduction (DRR) and disaster risk mitigation (DRM) efforts.

The DRR and DRM aspects of BNPB’s responsibilities are increasingly linked to the country’s institutional efforts to address climate change, to which Indonesia is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. In October 2017, the government announced an initiative to mainstream climate action into the development agenda, and there are specific policies for the adaptation of agriculture to climate change, optimal use of land, l ‘water and natural resources, rainwater conservation, development of early warning systems for extreme weather events, protection of the coastal zone, strengthening of infrastructure and better urban planning. The current 20-year development plan, Rencana Pembangunan Jangka Panjang Nasional (RPJPN), aims to eradicate illegal logging, fishing and mining, and it increases the participation of the local population in the forest management. It also aims to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities to the impacts of climate change. A 2019 government report found that RPJPN’s ‘low carbon’ development path could lead to a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 6% per year through 2045 and reduce emissions by 43% by 2030.

Of course, the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has disrupted some of those plans. Months after the first cases in the country, the pandemic reversed some hard-won gains in well-being, with rapidly increasing poverty, malnutrition and hunger. Indonesia will face years of competition for resources and tight budgets as the government and the private sector seek to reduce poverty, increase food security and rebuild education and health care, all also trying to finance the construction and expansion of resilient infrastructure in vulnerable areas.

As an archipelagic state that stretches 5,100 kilometers (3,200 miles) from east to west and encompasses 17,500 islands, improving connectivity between the country’s geographically remote communities is an ongoing challenge that cannot be only partially overcome by modern communications. Thus, the expansion of transport, communication and energy infrastructure and services underpins any expansion of health and education services and any increase in economic productivity in the private sector.

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