Indonesia Drought Situation Report No. 5

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA /GVA - 98/0197

1. Since September last year, Indonesia is suffering from a severe drought, caused by the strongest El Nino phenomenon in fifty years, which has led to food shortages in many provinces. Concurrently, Indonesia has been caught up in a regional economic crisis that is affecting its ability to import sufficient quantities of rice. Under present circumstances, the Government's ability to mount relief operations at required levels is seriously hampered and ongoing poverty alleviation programmes are being curtailed.

2. The International Monetary Fund targets indicate that the 1998 GDP growth rate is expected to be minus 5 per cent, compared with an average growth of 3 per cent a year between 1985 and 1995. The rate of inflation could exceed 45 per cent, compared with an average of 8.8 per cent per year from 1985 through 1995. The budget deficit is projected to exceed 3 per cent. Using a GDP growth rate of minus 5 per cent, unemployment could be expected to increase to more than 10.7 million people during 1998. This figure is thought to be understated because agricultural unemployment and especially underemployment in the urban and rural areas are not fully reflected.

3. In March 1998, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme have undertaken an assessment mission to Indonesia to determine the 1998 food and crop supply situation and to draw up a plan for assistance to the affected population. During the upcoming dry season (starting in May) and through the next major harvest in March/April 1999, WFP conservatively estimates that 7.5 million people of the more than 19.5 million people living in 53 districts of 15 provinces will likely experience acute household food insecurity as a result of the 1997 drought and the deterioration of the economy, unless targeted food aid is provided. On 23 April WFP issued an appeal for assistance to drought victims seeking USD 88,161,781 to cover the food needs of 4.6 million people in 15 provinces including Irian Jaya.

4. Large areas of central Irian Jaya continue to be severely affected by the drought that is creating major food shortages. The annual dry season that usually spans the months of June and July, began in May 1997 and continued almost uninterruptedly until the end of 1997. At the end of 1997 and beginning of 1998 some rainfall occurred, encouraging the local population to plant, but the crops will not be ready for six months from the date of planting.

5. The total population of Irian Jaya is 1.6 million (according to a 1990 population census). While governmental sources report that in the four districts of Jayawijaya, Puncak Jaya, Mimika and Merauke 672 people have died due to drought related diseases, unofficial sources suspect a death toll of more than 1,000. According to the information available on the situation, the impact of the drought has been reported to be most acute in the district of Mimika and the remote interior district of Jayawijaya which has a total population of 450,000.


6. The Government of Indonesia?s (GOI) response to the drought is coordinated by the National Coordinating Board for Disaster Management (BAKORNAS PB). The Ministry of Social Affairs (DEPSOS) is the lead ministry in providing disaster response. In addition to the Social Affairs Ministry, BAPPENAS (the National Planning Agency), which normally does not execute any project, is organizing relief response. BAPPENAS' relief project was valued at Rp 262 billion. The relief assistance provided by BAPPENAS consists of 3,163 tons of rice, 263 tons of sweet potatoes, 64,260 banana saplings and 10,854 kgs of corn seeds. The provision of rice is channelled through BULOG (National Logistics Agency) and its local depots (DOLOG) in Jayapura and Wamena.

7. The Head of Wamena District has activated the District Disaster Management Task Force (SATLAK PB), involving the church and non-governmental organizations. SATLAK receives and channels assistance to affected areas.

8. SATLAK has distributed food, mainly rice and sweet potatoes and seeds, from its warehouses to the affected villages. SATLAK is also suggesting that Agricultural Extension Officers to be placed in the villages to assist the villagers to plant banana, corn, etc.

9. End of April, the following aircraft are available and in operation for distribution of relief items:

1 Helicopter Used by SATLAK
2 Helicopters Used by ICRC
Caravan Used by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), World Vision International, NRC
Cessna Used by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), World Vision Int., NRC
Twin Otter Chartered by UNDP, based in Sentani (Jayapura District)

10. UNDP is running, with funds channelled through OCHA, a Twin Otter, operated by Mission Aviation Fellowship, to transport relief items from Sentani to the remote villages in the east of Jayawijaya district. This area is considered to have less supply compared with the other areas. It is also considered to be cheaper to serve this area directly from Sentani rather than from Wamena. (Weather and topography make flights from Wamena difficult. In addition, the relief stuff has first to be transported from Sentani to Wamena.) With the current funds available, the operation can be extended until mid of July. Until end of April, approximately 220 tons of food, medicines, cooking utensils and agricultural tools have been delivered.

11. In the Mimika district, ICRC has assisted some 15,000 people with protein-rich biscuits and rice up to 23 March. The ICRC/Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) team has also given on-the-spot treatment to seriously ill patients during their assessment visits and cases of malaria have either been treated individually or on a community level. ICRC's operations simultaneously also address approximately 15,000 victims in the Baliem Valley, Jayawijaya district. There ICRC aims to help the Irianese to regain a degree of self-sufficiency by encouraging them to grow vegetables in their gardens and to gather food, while at the same time preventing people from harvesting their sweet potato crop prematurely.

12. This week the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will start a major operation to get food and medical supplies to remote highland villages in Jayawijaya. The RAAF will have one C-130 Hercules, one DHC4 Caribou plane, three Black Hawk helicopters and around 90 men taking part in the USD 6.6 million relief operation, which is due to start on Saturday. The RAAF will work closely with the Indonesian Army (ABRI), the United Nations, ICRC and other organizations.

13. World Vision Indonesia is channelling a total of USD 1.33 million worth of relief food and seedlings to tens of villages in the Jayawijaya highlands in Irian Jaya. In particular, World Vision distributed rice, cooking oil, canned fish, noodles, cereal soya blend and mung bean. World Vision also provided various seedlings, such as corn, kidney beans, cabbage, carrot and pumpkin to provide new alternatives of essential food for the people, which so far relied largely on sweet potato as staple food.

14. The following contributions have been reported to OCHA to date:

Value in USD
Water Supply Project
Water Supply Project
Delivery of food and medical supplies by air
6.6 million
local NGO
World Vision
World Vision
Water Supply Project
New Zealand
128,205 (+)
141,242 (+)
Cash Grant
Collapsible Jerrycans
United Kingdom
90,000 (+)
United States
World Vision
Catholic Relief Indonesia Services
European Commission
MSF Belgium

TOTAL of contributions reported to OCHA 10,522,618

(+) The contribution has partly been used for the Environmental Emergency (Fires) in Indonesia.


15. In accordance with the SATLAK Jayawijaya plan and information gathered from other institutions, the community has started planting sweet potatoes and other plants. To bridge the gap until the first harvesting can be done (July/August), the following food requirements for Irian Jaya were identified by the Government:

Rice 3,130 tons
Sugar 105 tons
Salt 61 tons
Cooking oil 24 tons
Milk powder 360 tons

16. WFP is in the process of determining the assistance to be provided to Irian Jaya in the context of its emergency operation. Provisions have been included in the budget to finance air transport of 1,000 MT of food, particularly in Irian Jaya and Kalimantan, at an estimated cost of USD 1.2 million.

17. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions, to be used during the immediate relief phase, in coordination/consultation with relevant organizations of the United Nations system. OCHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.

18. Donors wishing to channel their contributions through OCHA should transfer funds to OCHA account No. CO.590.160.1 at the Swiss Bank Corporation, Case Postale 2770, CH -1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, with reference: OCHA - Indonesia - Irian Jaya - Drought.

19. Donors are requested to inform OCHA, as indicated below, on relief missions/pledges/contributions and their corresponding values by item.

20. This Situation Report and further information on ongoing emergencies are also available on the OCHA Internet WebSite at: http:\\

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