Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, as it is located on the "Pacific Ring of Fire" where a large number of volcanoes and earthquakes occur.
At least four major earthquakes rocked two provinces -- West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) and Central Sulawesi -- during the July-September 2018 period. The earthquake victims are still struggling to recover from the trauma and devastation caused by the natural disasters.
Three powerful earthquakes rocked Lombok and Sumbawa Islands in NTB respectively on July 29, Aug 5, and Aug 9, 2018.
The powerful magnitude-7 earthquake on Aug 5 devastated 75 percent of the buildings in North Lombok District.
The death toll on Lombok Island reached 555. More than 1,300 people were injured, and nearly 353 thousand have been internally displaced. Damage and losses are currently estimated at Rp7.7 trillion ($528 million).
While Lombok was still bleeding, a magnitude-7.4 earthquake and a subsequent tsunami struck the districts of Palu, Donggala, Sigi, and Parigi Moutong in Central Sulawesi on September 28, 2018.
The Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami claimed 2,102 lives, injured 4,612, and rendered 680 others missing. A total of 68,451 homes were seriously damaged, and 78,994 people were displaced. Material losses inflicted by the twin deadly disasters are estimated to reach more than Rp10 trillion.
Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla recently informed the press that the government will request assistance, including long-term loans, in accordance with the countrys needs.
Minister of Public Works and Peoples Housing Basuki Hadimuljono recently explained that the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the disaster-hit regions is targeted to be completed within two years, starting from January 2019.
Several countries have extended sympathies and assistance to the victims of the earthquakes.
The US Government announced on October 18, 2018, that it will channel $3 million in new funding through the United States Agency for International Developments Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) in support of the relief efforts for the Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami response.
This additional funding raises the total contribution of the United States to $6.7 million, not including the Department of Defenses operational expenses, according to a statement issued by the US embassy in Jakarta.
The Japanese government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, for instance, has expressed its commitment to helping the Government of Indonesia to rehabilitate and reconstruct destroyed and damaged houses in Central Sulawesi in the aftermath of the disaster.
International financial institutions, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as World Bank (WB), whose annual meetings were organized in Bali on October 8-13, 2018, have also expressed their readiness to provide loans for reconstruction efforts.
The ADB has committed to providing an additional loan of $1 billion to Indonesia to support emergency response and reconstruction efforts in Central Sulawesi.
The WB announced on October 14, 2018, that it will provide a standby loan of up to $1 billion for the Indonesian government for relief and reconstruction efforts in NTB and Central Sulawesi.
The loan was announced following a visit to Palu by WB CEO Kristalina Georgieva along with UN Secretary General Ant?nio Guterres and Indonesian Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla on October 12, 2018, on the sidelines of the IMF-WB Annual Meetings.
Earlier in Bali, she had suggested that the Indonesian government should increase the state budget for disaster mitigation, given the country is located on the ring of fire and three earth crust boundaries.
She asserted that the additional budget for disaster mitigation will not result in losses to the state budget. In fact, the additional budget for disaster mitigation can save more lives and public facilities in areas affected by disasters.
The WB, as a long-term partner of the Indonesian government in the field of disaster management, is also ready to increase its role to help Indonesia build resilience and maintain positive economic progress.
"I am pleased to offer our direct support to the Indonesian government. This support will be available on the request of the Indonesian government," Georgieva stated.
Having completed an initial assessment of the damage caused by the earthquakes and tsunami in Palu and Donggala, WB made an offer of assistance for rebuilding public facilities, such as hospitals, schools, bridges, and roads, as well as water supply infrastructure and strengthening monitoring and early warning systems.
In response to the loan offers, Vice President Kalla said the government is careful about accepting a loan offer from international financial institutions to finance the reconstruction efforts.
"We will consider the offer, as our funding needs will not be as much as (the loans offered). We must be careful to accept the loan offer, but under these circumstances, we are grateful for it," Kalla added.
Meanwhile, at a dialogue on Disaster Financing and Insurance held in Bali on the sidelines of the IMF-WB Annual Meetings, Kalla stated that Indonesia had opened up opportunities for international cooperation with the IMF and WB to set up a disaster insurance scheme in Indonesia.
Disaster insurance is an option, considering the Indonesian government always relies on the state budget to finance post-disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction programs.
Editing by Otniel
Source: ANTARA News