Indonesia at a glance

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The crisis and the response

  • Indonesia suffered two devastating earthquakes (in West Java and West Sumatra) in September 2009, triggering drastically different responses.
  • As the government did not welcome assistance for West Java, feeling that it could handle the response on its own, the international response was extremely limited and needs still remain.
  • Subsequently recognising its failure to provide adequate support in West Java, the government “welcomed” aid following the West Sumatra disaster.
  • The multiplicity of organisations arriving in West Sumatra created coordination challenges. OCHA coordinated international organisations while the Indonesian government worked with national counterparts. Communication with the government was often imperfect.
  • Coordination shortcomings led to duplication of effort and tensions. Over-interviewed survivors were forced to repeatedly answer the same questions.
  • Lack of standardised procedures and methodologies resulted in inconsistent damage assessments and problems sharing data between response actors.

Donor performance

  • Donors were generally criticised for not doing enough to integrate disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness into emergency assistance and for not funding organisational capacity for contingency planning and preparedness.
  • Failure to integrate a DRR approach into relief efforts reduced prospects for long-term sustainable recovery.
  • International media frenzy provoked a “contest for profile” among donors and led to only the most visible early recovery needs being met.

Key challenges and areas for improvement

  • Donors must avoid overlapping funding and do more to coordinate and align their responses.
  • Standardised needs-assessment processes should be implemented for all actors to reference and use.
  • More efforts should be made to bolster protection of disaster-affected people, using a gender-based approach to help the most vulnerable.
  • Donors should encourage the integration of local capacity building into humanitarian aid.

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Indonesia at a glance

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