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USAID FrontLines - Nov 2009

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Agency Sends Aid for Indonesia Earthquake

USAID airlifted 45 metric tons of emergency relief supplies from its Dubai stockpile to Indonesia after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck about 30 miles off the coast of West Sumatra Province Sept. 30. The shipment of 340 rolls of plastic sheeting, 6,720 hygiene kits, 7,200 water containers, and six generators-enough supplies to help at least 20,000 people-was provided to the Indonesian Red Cross for distribution.

The USAID airlift followed the Indonesian government's declaration of a state of emergency Oct. 1. The Indonesian government mobilized search and rescue teams and medical staff, and was distributing relief items-including blankets, tents, and food items.

USAID immediately released $300,000 for the local purchase and distribution of emergency relief supplies by Mercy Corps. In addition, USAID reserved at least $3 million for relief efforts in the days after the earthquake. To augment the Indonesian government's relief efforts, USAID sent an 11-member Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART, Oct. 2 to coordinate the U.S. government's response effort, support local officials, assess humanitarian conditions, and prioritize needs.

"Since 2003, USAID has assisted local, regional, and national disaster management agencies in Indonesia and other disaster-prone countries in the region in organizing and conducting training in medical first response, collapsed structure search and rescue, and hospital preparedness for mass casualties," said Carol Chan, the Agency's acting director of U.S. foreign disaster assistance. "So we knew that Indonesia has vast local capacity to respond in the aftermath of this earthquake.

The assistance we are providing is in support of the Indonesian government's relief efforts."

At least 1,000 people died and 4,000 were injured in the quake, according to official reports.

The earthquake caused significant infrastructure damage in Padang and Pariaman cities, as well as Padang Pariaman and Agam districts in West Sumatra Province, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Heavy rains and landslides damaged structures and left houses uninhabitable.

As of mid-October, the earthquake damaged more than 265,000 houses, 105 health facilities, 52 bridges, 131 irrigation systems, and 81 markets, according to OCHA.

The Indonesian government said it would transition from the emergency response phase to rehabilitation and reconstruction in the coming weeks. USAID intends to continue to work in support of those efforts.

In total, USAID has provided more than $5.2 million to assist those affected by the Sumatra quake. -- A.A.M.