Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Disaster and the Path of Sustainable Development of Aceh

By: Jonatan Lassa
Avian Influenza finally enters Aceh. The lab test result notified by BPPV Regional I Medan is positive, based on samples taken from Lamdom and Seutui in Banda Aceh (Serambi 25/11-05). This confirms the news the day before that thousands of chickens died in Banda Aceh (Serambi 24/11-05). Rumors on death of a child related to Bird Flu are spread across Banda Aceh. Avian Influenza is another risk factor to the path of Sustainable development in Aceh.

Aceh has been ‘labeled’ as the most disaster prone province in Indonesia. Even though in terms of disaster incidents, Aceh natural disaster' records is frequently lower than that of East Nusa Tenggara Province, the severity of the Tsunami has underscored previous Indonesian disastrous icon such as Tsunami Flores in 1992, where 2000 people died.

The Boxing Day Tsunami has not only changed the disaster management paradigm but also changed the landscape of global emergency response, including the landscape of global humanitarian donorship (Adele Harmer and Lin Cotterrell, 2005). DISASTERS IN ACEH: 1907-2005 Apart from the Tsunami, the hallmark of world large disasters, Acehness experience series of disasters both human-made ones (e.g. 30 years in conflict) and series of natural disasters from 1907-2005. The 26 Dec 2004 Tsunami claimed lives of 165,788, made 532,898 people homeless and displaced. The extreme disastrous event interacts with previous vulnerabilities of 30 years conflict, where there were pre-existing thousands of IDPs and 15,000 deaths during the last 30 years, creating complex vulnerabilities.

There are rather ‘marginal’ disastrous events but still categorized as big disasters happened in Aceh during 1907-2005. The latest one is the Flash Flood in Aceh Tenggara, where 21 died, and 20 injured and 12,020 affected. Aceh frequently experiences flood risks (43%) and earthquake risks (22%) and epidemic (22%) during 1907-2005.

The likelihood of pandemic avian influenza in Aceh is high and the contingency planning on tackling such pandemic does not known yet to the public, if there is such. Hence the path of sustainable development in Aceh is always interrupted by human made hazards (conflicts) and natural disasters. The path of sustainable development is also at risk, considering the existing geological vulnerabilities of Sumatera that are prone to earthquakes and volcano eruptions.
These “externalities” (floods, earthquakes, tsunami, volcano eruption, epidemics) are potential treats to the communities. While there are “internalities” known as poverty and vulnerabilities, the social part that contributing to disasters are rooted in the developmental policy and processes. Managing the interaction both the “externalities” and “internalities” will be the basis for addressing root causes of disasters. The Earmarked Tsunami Funds & the Future of Hyogo Framework

Quite often, people believe that funds that have been earmarked as the Tsunami funds should not be used for the other hazards-disasters interventions. Tsunami funds are for tsunami related business. Victims of both conflict, flood and the most recent one such as Avian Influenza will be fundraised differently. People might argue that understanding the complexities of the context in Aceh does not have to be followed by a flexible policy, which gives rooms for better humanitarian and disaster management intervention. Still, money earmarked as Tsunami intends to be used merely for tsunami. No more, no less.

Even though thousands organisations sent their representatives and kept their ears and eyes on the result from the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, just recently in January 2005, where Hyogo Framework for Action was developed and thus promotes multi-hazards management approach, a kind of holistic approach to disaster management. However, such an expensive conference funded from ordinary tax payers of the whole world, resulted in BAU (business as usual) or maybe a kind of mass amnesia.

What Aceh is urgently needed is, as Ms. Eileen Shea’s note during hearing in front of the US Senate: “… … a comprehensive, multi-hazard approach is needed that establishes the social (human, institutional and political) as well as scientific and technical infrastructure necessary to anticipate and manage risks. If we focus only on the tsunami hazard itself, I fear that we will be like the proverbial general planning for the past war”. I would add Avian Influenza to the list.

Aceh has been experiencing series disasters but do the development policy makers, including reconstruction policy makers in the government, BRR, UNs, INGOs, and local CSOs in Aceh have considered the dialectical relationship between disasters and sustainable development? If the answer is no, then it is clear why the path of sustainable development is always at risk. The whole notion on achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through mainstreaming risk reduction in development process is just an empty slogan. This rich resource province experiences backwardness due to series of human-man disasters or conflict in this case. Today,

Avian Flu just started to strike the region. Lack of infrastructure in remote villages and the destruction of houses and buildings in the past due to conflict made people abandoned their natural assets because situation was impossible for production, lead to poverty and destitution.
In dealing with all natural hazards such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and epidemics, not only exclusive to Aceh context but Indonesia in general, people often ignore the ‘anthropogenic’ cause of disasters, especially, but not limited to, in the response stages. However natural the hazards, it takes human to experience disasters. Another critic often recited by disaster experts is that “too much emphasis in doing something about disasters is put on the natural hazards themselves, and not nearly enough on the social environment its processes (Blaikie et. al. 1994)

Multi-hazards approach to Aceh reconstruction processes could be explained using ADPC’s term “Total Disaster Risk Management”, as I understood as: firstly, take holistic approach and comprehensive action towards all hazards that exist on the communities. No hazard/disaster (either human made or natural) discrimination, even though each hazard have their own very nature. Secondly, take preventive and mitigation efforts effectively to all kinds of hazards; in Aceh context can be meant not only the Tsunami but also floods, avian flu, conflict earthquakes and epidemics such as Polio and Dengue. Thirdly, promoting multi level and multi-dimension and multi-disciplinary in disaster risk management. For the case of bird flue, If no action taken by all the players in the livelihood intervention, specifically to livelihood projects that related to chickens, this could be a harmful approach. This is not an issue of a specific livelihood security but of human security. My expectation is that Hyogo Protocol for Action should not be aborted in Aceh, the place where world disaster management communities keep their eyes always


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