Indonesia: Communities determine their own recovery following the Yogyakarta earthquake

Communities devastated by the earthquake that struck near Yogyakarta a year ago have been empowered to take the lead in their own recovery, thanks to the support of the British Red Cross working with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Following the quake, the Red Cross launched an early recovery programme, which has seen affected communities working together to manage the construction of their own low cost and quake-resilient shelters. More than 12,500 shelters have been completed with the help of the Red Cross and more than 14,000 families assisted with tools for reconstruction.

Bill Marsden, recovery coordinator, worked for the British Red Cross as part of the team that set up the early recovery projects following the tsunami in Aceh. After the earthquake struck near Yogyakarta, Bill took his expertise and learning to assist in the recovery efforts for the IFRC.

He said: "The success of this programme shows how important it is that communities drive their own recovery rather than have it imposed on them.

"By ensuring that people are at the centre of their own recovery, we make sure that their real needs are being met and that humanitarian assistance is effective and sustainable."

The Magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck near the Javanese city on 27 May 2006 claimed more than 5,000 lives and left 1.1 million people homeless.

Rapid distribution of tents and tarpaulins in the days and weeks immediately after the disaster ensured that emergency shelter needs were quickly met. However, a Red Cross survey found that many people were worried about the gap between these temporary solutions and the construction of new, permanent homes - which are being funded by the Indonesian government. In response the Red Cross set up this innovative early recovery programme.

The earthquake-resistant shelters have been made by members of the community from local materials such as bamboo and rope and cost the equivalent of around £76 (USD $153). They can be constructed in around five days and should last up to six years or until government funded permanent homes are completed.

Thousands of families living in tents and damaged buildings were shown a Red Cross video, designed to show them how to build the traditional-style shelters. Communities then nominated individuals to take responsibility for purchasing and allocating resources, managing finances and overseeing construction.

Bill added: "There has been an emphasis on using volunteers living within communities who could provide additional technical advice and support."

In addition to the shelters, the Red Cross has also provided emergency relief, water and sanitation and medical assistance to almost 125,000 families across the region.

The British Red Cross Indonesia Earthquake Appeal raised more than £900,000, which has supported the Federation's response.


Notes to editors

Yogyakarta: In the immediate aftermath, two teams of British Red Cross logisticians helped deliver relief items, including tents and tarpaulins for people to make temporary shelters.

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

For further information Georgina Cooper

Contact number 020 7877 7479 (Out of hours duty press office pager: 07659 145095)