Merapi’s displaced start anew

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In a village overlooked by Mount Merapi, hundreds of families, displaced by the volcano’s eruptions, are slowly adapting to living in their new homes.

The families were relocated from their old villages in disaster-prone areas, which could no longer be inhabited after they were buried by volcanic materials.

“My home is quake-proof and we’ve been able to decorate it because we saved some money,” Markuat, a housewife, told World Bank president Jim Yong-kim and his entourage during a visit on Wednesday.

At the permanent settlement of people displaced by the 2010 Mt. Merapi eruption in Pagerjurang village, Kepuharjo district, Sleman, Yogyakarta, Jim was happy to hear stories of how residents were able to quickly recover and work together to build a new settlement in a safer area.

“We came here because we wanted to learn lessons, so we can share them with other countries,” Jim told journalists after inspecting the settlement in Pagerjurang village on Wednesday.

During the visit, Jim met Yogyakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Gatot Saptadi, who explained the Mt. Merapi eruption, evacuation and reconstruction process in Pagerjurang.

Kepuharjo village chief Heru Suprapto also explained the division of plots for permanent housing. Heru said residents had no qualms about the division of plots for their homes as they agreed that each family would receive a house via a lottery.

The World Bank is involved in funding the reconstruction of permanent homes for those displaced by the eruption through the Rekompak program, a reconstruction program with a community based approach.

Jim said he had heard good stories about the process, in which the community worked together to build their new settlement, facilitated by the Indonesian government, as only with facilities would the affected community be able to seek the best solutions for itself.

“The community is somehow [doing] even better than it was before. It’s homes are resistant to earthquakes and volcano eruptions,” he said.

World Bank Rekompak program team leader George Soraya said the permanent housing project was part of a success story of cooperation between the community and the government. He expressed hope that there would be many more such success stories in Indonesia.

“When people and government work together, nothing is impossible and this project is just an example,” he said.