RI needs ‘more’ disaster

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, of the National Disaster Management Agency, complained Thursday that the state budget’s allocation of Rp 4 trillion (US$4.6 billion) for annual natural disasters in Indonesia is grossly inadequate.

He cited the fact that this amount falls far short of the amount needed in this country, which is situated in the “ring of fire,” a region known worldwide for its vulnerability to natural disasters.

He pointed out examples, like the floods in Jakarta in 2007 that caused losses of up to Rp 4.8 trillion (US$561 million), and the Merapi eruption last year that cost the state Rp 3.56 trillion.

The Global Assessment Report (GAR), from the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), shows that annual financial losses due to natural disasters can be as high as 1 percent of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is equivalent to the losses experienced by many countries during the global financial crises in 1980 and 1990.

Sutopo said that disasters have a negative impact on economic development, because they reduce production capacity, which can cause financial loss.

According to the UN report, Indonesia is one of the countries in the Asia Pacific region that invests enough in disaster risk reduction (DDR) programs to see good progress.

UNISDR recognized President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as “UNISDR Global Champion,” at the opening ceremony of the 2011 Global Platform for DRR in Geneva, Switzerland, last May.

The GAR reveals risks, redefines development, and also provides guidance and suggestions to governments and non-governmental bodies.

This report contributes to the Hyogo Framework of Action, a 10-year plan to improve the world’s preparedness for natural hazards, by monitoring both risk patterns and progress in DDR.

“The report shows that the mortality risk from floods and cyclones is going down globally, but the economic loss risk is going up,” coordinator and lead author of the report, Andrew Maskrey, told reporters at a press conference in Jakarta.

He said that the risk of mortalities from weather-related disasters, such as floods and cyclones, had decreased about 50 percent since 1990, while that for earthquakes and tsunamis was still increasing.

The mortality risk has decreased because governments, globally, have made good progress in disaster preparedness, disaster response, and also early warnings for disasters. “These are all the things that save lives,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said, economic loss is increasing more quickly in countries with very rapid economic growth, such as Indonesia, because the volume of assets, such as buildings, water systems, electricity systems, and roads in disaster-prone areas is also increasing.

According to data released by the UNISDR, human loss from the total number of 321 disasters that occurred in Indonesia between 1980 and 2010 was 192,474 people, (or 6,209 people killed, on average, per year), while economic losses were around $23 billion, or $761 million per year. (drs)

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