Indonesia: One year after the Yogakarta earthquake

Communities must lead their own recovery from disaster, finds a survey by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

A Red Cross reconstruction project based on mutual respect, or 'gotong royong', is helping Indonesians lead their own recovery a year after the devastating Yogyakarta earthquake.

Claiming more than 5,000 lives and leaving 1.1 million people homeless, the magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck near the Javanese city on 27 May 2006, destroying or damaging 475,000 houses.

'We know from other large scale operations such as the tsunami that recovery should be driven by affected communities not imposed on them,' says Robert Tickner, CEO of Australian Red Cross. 'That is at the centre of all the relief and reconstruction work we are doing in the region,' Mr Tickner said.

Red Cross provided relief and distributed tents and tarpaulins immediately after the disaster, and emergency shelter needs were quickly met. However, a survey by International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies found that many people were worried about the gap between these temporary solutions and the construction of new, permanent homes.

In response, the Federation launched its early recovery program to help communities address transitional shelter needs and protect themselves in future disasters. The program has seen dozens of affected communities manage the construction of their own low cost and quake-resilient shelters.

'Through the shelter program we supported the community's system of mutual support, gotong royong,' says Australian Amara Bains, deputy head of the Red Cross delegation in Indonesia. This week, Ms Bains returns to Yogyakarta, where she has worked periodically since the earthquake, to pay her respects.

'Red Cross volunteers lived with communities to support them in the building of transitional bamboo shelters for the most vulnerable in each community,' she says.

More than 12,250 shelters have been completed and 14,500 families assisted with the financial and technical support of Indonesian Red Cross, the Federation and Red Cross national societies. The shelters are made from local materials like bamboo and rope and cost around $180. They can be constructed in four or five days and should last up to six years, or until government-funded permanent homes are completed.

Available for interview:

Yogyakarta: Amara Bains, Deputy Head of Delegation, Indonesia
Australia: Robert Tickner, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Red Cross

Media contacts:

Kelly Chandler
Communications Officer
Australian Red Cross
W: +613 9345 1868
M: 0412 825 023