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Natural disasters in Indonesia - statistics & facts

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of natural disasters in the world. The archipelagic nation is made up of 17,000 islands and lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area in the Pacific Ocean where many active volcanoes are found, resulting in frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Additionally, the natural disaster risk index in Indonesia for tsunamis, floods, landslides, drought, and forest fires is also relatively high compared to other countries. With more than 260 million people living in the natural disaster risk areas in Indonesia, disaster risk reduction and management play a crucial role in strengthening the country’s resilience.

Consequences of Indonesia’s limited natural disaster risk management budget

Since 2016, more than two thousand natural disasters have occurred in Indonesia every year. Heavy floods and landslides usually happen during the rainy season between November and March, while earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur without seasonal patterns. Indonesia maintains a comprehensive network of end-to-end early warning systems, including the Tsunami Early Warning System (InaTEWS) that can provide information about seismic activity within 5 minutes.

However, due to Indonesia’s limited budget for disaster risk management, the whole system has not been properly maintained. According to Indonesia's meteorological and geophysics agency, BMKG, only 70 out of the 170 existing earthquake sensors could be supported in 2018, the year in which Indonesia was hit by a series of major natural disasters. In the previous decades, investments in Indonesia have focused on improving public and private infrastructure. This left its disaster risk budget to rely heavily on reserve budgets, post-disaster funding, and aid. Realizing these issues, the Indonesian government has increased its budget significantly since then. As of March 2022, BMKG has installed 428 New Generation Warning Receiver System (WRS) across Indonesia to strengthen the country's earthquake and tsunami early warning system.

Capacity building to strengthen Indonesia’s resilience towards disasters

Despite the prevalence and high frequency of natural hazards, public awareness of disaster risk prevention and management in Indonesia remained low. According to the government data in 2017, less than three percent of Indonesian households knew how to respond to natural disasters or were able to recognize natural disaster warning signs. This is despite the significant increase in the number of households that had natural disaster management training in Indonesia between 2014 to 2017. As of now, most Indonesians get disaster-related information through social media.

The world’s largest archipelago is projected to witness an upswing in the number of climate-related natural disasters in the coming years. For these concerns, the Indonesian government has formulated the National Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation (2013-2025) to guide cross-sectoral climate change adaption interventions until 2025. At present, increasing the knowledge about natural disasters and climate change at the local level and managing sustainable development across the nation would be critical to Indonesia’s resilience towards both natural disasters and climate change.


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