Indonesia - Emergency Fact Sheet #1, Fiscal Year (FY) 1998

Situation Report
Originally published

Background: The 1997-1998 El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event triggered drought, forest fires and related food shortages and health problems throughout Indonesia. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has received three separate disaster declarations for Indonesia in FY 1998. These disasters, together with the Asian financial crisis, have contributed to a worsening economic and political climate. The political crisis climaxed on May 21 when, following several days of widespread unrest, Indonesian President Suharto resigned from office after 32 years in power. The presidency was passed to Vice-President B.J. Habibie, but the new government's ability to recover from recent natural disasters and on-going economic/political turmoil continues to be limited. Indonesia's currency has lost 80 percent of its value, unemployment is skyrocketing and the banking and financial sector is in a state of collapse.

U.S. Government (USG) Assistance: On October 1, 1997, Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy issued a disaster declaration for Indonesia due to wildfires and resulting health problems. In response, USAID's Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (BHR/OFDA) provided $25,000 in funding to support immediate relief activities, and sent an assessment team to Irian Jaya. Based on the team's recommendation, BHR/OFDA funded three relief projects. First, $248,200 was channeled through World Vision Relief and Development (WVRD) to provide seeds appropriate for a short growing season, (including carrots, beans, corn, and cabbage) in Irian Jaya. These seeds were passed to indigenous areas by missionary groups working with WVRD, reducing the need to fly bulk food into drought- stricken areas later in the year. Second, BHR/OFDA provided $100,000 to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) to provide airlift support to the WVRD seeds program and to ensure that MAF was able to continue other drought-related relief missions in Irian Jaya.

Finally, BHR/OFDA provided $150,000 to ICRC to distribute medical supplies to targeted vulnerable groups in Irian Jaya. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) also responded to this disaster declaration. On October 17, DoD deployed three C-130 aircraft (two of which were capable of Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System operations) and support equipment along with a 47-person detachment from the 153d Wyoming Air National Guard. DoD also funded the deployment of a six-person US Forest Service technical assistance team in support of fire fighting operations. The personnel and air assets worked in close coordination and collaboration with the Government of Indonesia, the Indonesian Military and the U.S. Embassy. The aircraft flew 249 fire fighting sorties and were instrumental in controlling priority wildfires in East Java and Sumatra.

In January and February of 1998, USAID, together with several international organizations, U.S. private voluntary agencies, carried out food need assessments in Indonesia. It was confirmed that the drought had been most severe in Sulawesi and in the eastern island provinces of Nusa Tengara Barat, Nusa Tengara Timur and East Timor. In these islands, failed crops and delayed harvests had caused food shortages and had overtaxed traditional coping mechanisms. The assessments revealed that the food security of about 700,000 people was threatened. As a result, Ambassador Roy declared a disaster for East Timor on February 2. BHR/OFDA responded by providing $25,000 to CARE to enhance on-going drought assistance program on that island.

Finally, on April 27, 1998, Ambassador Roy issued a third disaster declaration in response to drought and fires in East Kalimantan. BHR/OFDA responded by granting $22,500 to a consortium of indigenous NGOs for the purchase of rice seed. These seeds were distributed to affected populations for planting upon the resumption of rains. In addition to BHR/OFDA humanitarian assistance, BHR/Food For Peace (FFP) has provided Title II emergency assistance to Indonesia for ENSO-related impacts totaling $54.4 million (88,836 MT of food). This aid has been channeled through CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Church World Services, Adventist Development and Relief Agency and the World Food Programme.

BHR/OFDA Humanitarian Assistance FY 1998 - $570,000
BHR/FFP Humanitarian Assistance FY 1998 - $54,400,000
U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Assistance FY 1998 - $3,934,000
Total USG Humanitarian Assistance (FY 1997 and 1998) - $58,904,000