The Jakarta Post
Repeated phreatic eruptions at Mount Merapi since Monday have not affected daily activities in the villages of Balerante, Panggang and Sidorejo in Kemalang district, Klaten regency, Central Java - but a shortage of clean water has.
The three villages are located only around 5 kilometers from the peak of the volcano.
“When the first phreatic eruption occurred [on May 11], our residents stayed calm. When Mt. Merapi’s alert status was raised from ‘normal’ to ‘caution’ earlier this week, they kept calm. They continue to go to their fields and find grass to feed their livestock,” said Sidorejo village head Jemakir.
He added that Kemalang residents were much more worried about a clean water crisis they were currently dealing with than about Mt. Merapi’s eruptions. They have got used to dealing with Mt. Merapi’s volcanic activity.
“In several villages in the district, there has been no rain in the last two months. Many springs have dried up,” said Jemakir.
Sidorejo resident Sulimin, 45, said some residents in his village had started to buy clean water. Others sourced clean water from the Bebeng spring in Sleman, Yogyakarta, which is quite far.
“To get water from the spring, residents pay Rp 170,000 [US$12.03] per tank with a capacity of 6,600 liters. They usually pay together for the water,” said Sulimin.
Klaten Disaster Mitigation Agency head Bambang Giyanto said 22 villages in seven districts across Klaten were prone to drought. Eleven of the 22 villages are in the district of Kemalang. (ebf)