Between 2004 to 2010, Indonesia was struck by a series of extreme natural disasters. The first, and most deadly, was the Asian tsunami in December 2004. Triggered by a massive 9.1 magnitude earthquake, the tsunami swept away homes, communities and infrastructure, leaving over 200,000 dead or missing. In March 2005, another earthquake levelled the nearby island of Nias, destroying nearly one third of its buildings and killing close to 1,000 people. Central Java was next: in May 2006, it was struck by an earthquake that killed nearly 6,000. Another quake and a tsunami killed hundreds more the following July, followed by deadly several volcanic eruptions of Mount Merapi in 2010.
Because it is located in a geologically active geological area, Indonesia is prone to natural disasters. But today the country is better prepared. Why? Because of the lessons it learned in responding to a series of disasters that pummeled it between 2004 and 2010.
Getting Ready for Future Disasters
Disaster Risk Reduction, or DRR, was embedded in Indonesian government policy through a new a new body, the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB). Set up in 2008 the BNPB is responsible for disaster preparedness and response at both national and regional levels. Among officials, this means developing national and regional disaster management plans and sharing data. To ordinary people, it means teaching people- especially schoolchildren- how to respond when disasters strike. It also means constructing homes, buildings and infrastructure so they are earthquake-resistant. These steps alone will save thousands of lives in the future.