Sunday, October 15, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Restoring Hope After the Nepal Earthquake

It has been one year since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, devastating communities across the country. From day one, the American Red Cross and its partners have been providing assistance to save lives and help families recover. We now take a moment to look back at the year that has passed and the work we are doing to create hope for the future. This has only been possible with the help of the government, our donors, partners, and community members.

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Accountability in disaster management

Natural disaster and corruption both are perceived as continuous threat to the people of Indonesia. Natural disaster occurs in many and various places and some of them occur at the same time and even repeatedly. On the other hand corruption also occurs in many places. However, if the funds devoted to natural disaster management is stolen by corruption, the impact of the disaster will be multiplied
Indeed, the Corruption Act has stated the threat of severe punishment for corruptors of natural disaster funds. But the corruption still exist. The latest from several cases is the Kejaksaan Negeri (Kejari) Kudus, on Thursday (22/5) named former District Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) Kudus, SG, as a suspect in alleged misappropriation of funds in 2012. ( 22 / 5/14).

The threat of severe punishment does not necessarily remove the interest of people to corrupt disaster management funds. Opportunities exist because in disaster events to use the funds needs to be treated as special in urgent setting. So the treatment that generally requires a long process under normal circumstances can be excluded. In disaster relief, help needs to be provided quickly because every hour is meaningful.

Ease of access to large funds can tempt the authorities on misuse the funds. However, preventing corruption by returning the process of disbursement of funds according to normal procedures is certainly will not applicable in such situation. Instead of pursuing to achieve proper financial management, it would slow down the swiftness of action. Therefore it should be a system to ensure the distribution would be reach the targeted beneficiaries.

Guarding the accountability

Countering corruption in disaster management has become an important issue for disaster-prone institutions. One of the recommendations is community involvement. According to Transparency International, the involvement of affected communities and vulnerable groups in every level of preparedness planning will provide two additional benefits. The first is the minimization of the risk of corruption and the subsequent establishment of a sense of ownership of the group. (International Development Committee, 2006).

Disaster-affected communities are often only seen as parties that need help. But in fact they have the potential as a guardian of transparency and accountability. Although they are laymen but by building systems that encourage their involvement, corruption loopholes can be closed.

Community involvement will prevent asymmetric information in disaster management. All parties need to know and monitor damage data and losses of public property and public infrastructure. Thus manipulation by inflating the value of loss can be prevented. Communities need to know the parties involved in disaster management and post-disaster recovery. So the public can monitor the parties who get the tender for the rehabilitation of public infrastructure or the distribution of aid. Violations in the form of mark ups, kick-backs, extension of economic rent will become noticeable.

The local authorities need to publicly disseminate disaster-related information in an easily accessible locations. Shops, markets, shelters and places adjacent to the place of worship are ideal locations. On the other hand, community institutions need to encourage this initiatives to be realized.

In addition to information disclosure, communities need to be trained and empowered. During this time, various trainings have been conducted for the community in disaster preparedness. It would be better if the community were also trained to play a role in accountability function. This training will enable the public to assess the appropriateness of the rules and forms of assistance provided.
Furthermore, a complaint mechanism should be strengthened. Good mechanism can be identified if there is evidence that people both as individual and communal can report on misappropriate practices. On the other hand the speed of responding is also a part that needs to be developed in order to encourage more public participation.

Accountability and disaster preparedness

One of the difficulties in disaster management is the apprehensiveness of the authorities to disburse emergency funds. Mismanagement will lead to serious problem for the authorities. The common question is who can keep the funds being used in accordance with the applicable rules. Therefore it should be a space where people contribute to oversight. Many parties can be participated on keeping the process will be executed according to the procedure.

So in addition to disaster preparedness community, the society has to be strengthened with accountability. This capacity needs to be built in vulnerable areas. Although this is not easy but ultimately the affected community can be benefited with swiftness of government actions.

Arwin Soelaksono

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Recovery on post Mt. Sinabung eruption

Last February –5 months after living in the evacuation – 17,150 IDPs went back to their homes. Mt. Sinabung eruption had destroyed their houses and livelihoods with volcanic ash and stones. Almost 51,000 hectares of rice paddy field covered by volcanic ashes. Currently the local government and people who lives in 3 villages which located 3 kilometers from the crater are facing difficult problem, relocation.

Relocation is needed to help affected people rebuild their lives. New houses and new agricultural land. But everyone should be aware, residential relocation from affected areas to new areas is not a sprint, it's a marathon. It’s a long road with a variety of policy barriers and the pitfalls of social problems. The most basic question for those 1,255 people are their hope for the future. Will they be fully recovered? What it will look like and when.

Recovery on economic and resettlement 

Recovery post disaster always challenging and takes time due multi dimension aspects need to be covered. For instance the economic aspect which is recovery of livelihoods in agricultural areas affected by the volcanic ash. The government should organize supply chain and supported with comprehensive policies. New paddy field development should not stop at the construction of irrigation channel.  The government needs to provide assistance to farmers so that the crop cultivation system is suitable with the new land. Government support during early recovery period is needed on planting, growing, harvesting and selling activities to minimize potential losses of farmers.
On dwelling subject, it is challenging for the survivor that can immediately to occupy the residence as before the disaster. Post-disaster housing reconstruction is a process that is the interaction of complex social, technological and economic factors and actions (Baradan, 2006). The policy chosen by government to support one aspect will affect the other.

To explain the interrelationship of many aspects, take a look on relocation. We can learn from the experience of landslide victims in Maninjau, West Sumatra. The landslide caused by the 2009 earthquake, they still living in temporary shelter. It is not easy to develop a new residential area, because it means forest clearcutting. There will be series requirements that need to be fulfilled. The mechanism of ownership is also unclear, if a person accepts land in the relocation area then they must relinquish the original land rights. If the previous land is their family inheritance, it is unlikely to release. If the relocation area away from their livelihood it will be difficult to convince them to be relocated. Relocating means moving the entire economic infrastructure to the new area.

It is almost impossible for immediate rehabilitation and reconstruction in relocation area. Let us look at Mentawai tsunami 2010 survivors. They have to wait for about 3 years for this work to begin. This waiting period made the vulnerable from the political and security aspects. Strong leadership is needed to integrate and make the most of the smallest resources available for recovery. The affected people – especially those from the villages of Sukameriah, Bekerah and Simacem - must continue to be empowered. Even they are affected people, they have to proactive and have involvement on recovery process.

Leadership on recovery

Leading 389 families from all three relocated villages would be a daunting task. That's why they need strong leadership to support of the citizens but also attract other elements of the outside community to help. Multi-stakeholder support is necessary because recovery will be too much to bear by the community and government.

The support could come from business institutions, if they might see economic prospect that can develop over the long term. Business entities also require the legal certainty and fair policy so that the business can be beneficial for them and the society. Support might also come from non-governmental organizations as can be seen on their humanitarian and development program.

The recovery leaders must have innovative method and solution in post-disaster recovery. Replicating those that have been successfully applied in other areas will not have necessarily can be implemented in Sinabung. Indonesia is a country rich in diversity. Each community has its own uniqueness. No size fits all. The recovery initiative should come from the uniqueness of society. They can use their local wisdom as the fundamental elements of the recovery. If the recovery effort proven successful then it can be expected the community could be more resilient.

Arwin Soelaksono

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