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Indonesia and its huge challenge caused by natural disasters

Floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

JAKARTA - A commentator in one of Indonesia's English-language dailies, the Jakarta Post, says that his country has become a land of tragedies. Right after the tragedy of a flood in Wasior, West Papua, an earthquake-triggered tsunami with three metre high waves hit the Mentawai Islands, off West Sumatra, causing death and destruction.

While the country was still in shock from those disasters, the world's most active volcano, Java's Mount Merapi, erupted, spewing ash and lava and causing tens of thousands to flee to safer areas. The lives of hundreds of people were snuffed out in these October 2010 calamities. Natural disasters have become a great challenge for Indonesians in this new century.

The daily paper identifies two major impacts caused by the disasters: Economic and psychological. In terms of Indonesia’s economy, natural catastrophes have been causing huge damage to property and interference with economic activity, consequently resulting in significant financial losses. It also laments that the natural disasters create more of a burden on the national budget to shoulder the cost of post-disaster restoration.

Overall, it is noted that the natural disasters directly multiply the number of people living in poverty. Not only is it financially frightening, natural disasters are also psychologically horrifying and can create a very real terror for many people.

The commentary blames the Indonesian authorities for failing to ensure comprehensive disaster management, which just increases the death toll and the extent of destruction and propels poverty in the afflicted areas.