Immediate benefits in Indonesia

Date Publish: 
Indonesia / Asia

On 2 July 2013, at 2:37 pm local time a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck northern Sumatra’s Aceh Province. Bener Meriah and Aceh Tengah districts were hit hardest hit, with houses and infrastructure such as roads, water supply and electricity lines affected.

The difference between this quake, and the many ones preceding it in this disaster-prone part of Indonesia is that it was the first one in which the local disaster management agencies could put into action the skills they had learned under IOM’s innovative USAID/OFDA Disaster Risk Reduction programme.

Bener Meriah is a remote district located in the central highlands of Aceh and was the first area where the project was rolled out. Its Disaster Management Agency has only been in existence for two years and staff never received any training in Geographical Information System (GIS).

But the eight days of intensive training in May left the 25 government employees equipped to do data collection, surveys, database applications and the generation of maps. Those skills were then used to develop district disaster risk maps, which will feed into  the district disaster management plan.

When the quake hit, the team used their newfound knowledge to identify the immediate needs and possible bottlenecks for the distribution of relief items.

“I never thought the training on GIS would become so handy so quickly,” said Ibu Hajjah, head of the preparedness section of the Disaster Management Agency in Bener Meriah. “Now we know how to do it we will be able to react in a more targeted and effective way.”

“Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Capacity and Promoting Community Resilience in Aceh, Indonesia” is a 24-month project covering five districts in Aceh. It promotes open source software to save funds and ensure its long-term use.

IOM emergency response staff and volunteers distribute shelter kits in Bener Meriah, Aceh in Indonesia. © IOM 2013