Disaster PlanningSBY urges local govts to plan for disasters
That seems to be hell of a fatalistic approach, but a closer reading of the front page article in today's Jakarta Post indicates a more than cursory approach to the recent deaths from landslides and flooding
in Java.SBY yesterday instructed regional government heads to prepare contingency plans to prevent more fatalities.
In Jakarta, Coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie said the government would create a detail map of areas prone to flooding and landslides to help regional governments create civil defense strategies.
The government has blamed persistent torrential rain for the landslide. However, environmentalists say deforestation caused by illegal logging and land clearing was the root cause.
I would have thought that both were to blame, but not according to a recent report
issued by the UN's food and agriculture organisation (FAO
) and the Centre for International Forestry Research
(Cifor).Massive flooding is not usually caused by extensive deforestation, contrary to popular belief. A ban on logging and other government responses to widespread flooding are misplaced and potentially harmful, it says.
"The frequency of major flooding events has remained the same over the last 120 years going back to the days when lush forests were abundant," the director-general of Cifor, David Kaimowitz, said.
Patrick Durst of the FAO said that governments were at risk of making knee-jerk reactions. "Politicians want to be seen to be doing something but it can cost many people their livelihoods," he said.
Obviously, what needs changing is the laissez-faire
attitude of bureaucrats who are supposedly responsible for the welfare of citizens within their purview.In Bandung, the state geological office said warning letters had been sent out to regions prone to disasters, including Jember and Banjarnegara (scenes of the recent landslides) but had apparently fallen on deaf ears.
"The letters were sent but we have had no response," Yousana Siagian, of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Directorate, said.
Disasters will happen; that's a given. But allowing the rural poor to build flimsy dwellings on land which is known to be prone to slippage is criminally negligent.
The Indonesian village of Cijeruk, 230 miles east of Jakarta, after Tuesday's landslide
. Photograph: Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images
What, to my mind, is possibly worse, is the voyeurism which accompanies these regular and preventable events.The relief effort (in Jember) was impeded by the throngs of curious bystanders whose cars and motorcycles jammed the narrow road leading to the area, causing congestion for about six kilometers.
"It's insane. Too many onlookers have hampered evacuation efforts. It should not happen," Minister of Social Affairs Bachtiar Chamsyah said. Several ministers, including Bachtiar and Aburizal, had to walk several kilometers to reach the site.
As did the rescue teams.