Natural Disasters Management and the Challenge of Governability in Indonesia

Natural Disasters
Management and
the Challenge of
Governability in
David Efendi1
Husni Amriyanto Putra3
Since 1998, Indonesia has experienced a major transformation in the relationship
between the rulers and the ruled. State–society relationships were previously
subject-object, military-civilian, or superior-inferior. In other words, the state
played a central role in all matters, while civil society ‘Muhammadiyah’ was limited
to political and social activities. This tended to negatively impact community
involvement in prevention and risk-reduction for natural disasters. This paper
examines the role of civil society in disaster management in Indonesia. It does
so in relation to the particular example of Yogyakarta, a special province where
local values traditionally have more inherent authority than government-imposed
law. The paper further discusses how there are important lessons for the future
to be drawn from a Yogyakarta case study of how the national government has
generally failed to build a private–public partnership and state–society relationship
to deal with natural disasters based on local community needs.
Governability, community role, disaster management, public policy, state-society
Indian Journal of Public
65(3) 627–645, 2019
© 2019 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0019556119840953
1 Department of Government Affairs and Administration, Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta,
Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
2 Department of Public Administration, Khon Kaen University, Thailand.
3 Department of International Relations, Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Corresponding author:
David Efendi, Department of Government Affairs and Administration, Universitas Muhammadiyah
Yogyakarta, Gedung E2 Lt.1, Kampus Terpadu UMY, JL. Brawijaya, Kasihan, Bantul, Yogyakarta
55183, Indonesia.
628 Indian Journal of Public Administration 65(3)
Indonesia is located on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, where continental plates meet,
causing high levels of seismic activity. It has the world’s largest number of active
volcanoes, making Indonesia a dangerous area (Bev & Katrina, 2010). Between
2004 and 2010, more than 180,000 Indonesians died due to natural hazards
(Kompas, 2010). During this, natural hazards contributed to the rise of new
poverty in Indonesia. At least 1 or 2 million people slipped into poverty following
tsunamis and earthquakes (Royat, 2009). Table 1 provides some of the country’s
major disasters during this period.
Learning from this, Indonesia should plan for facing other disasters that might
take place in the near future. To fail to do so would lead to even worse loss of life.
In post-Suharto Indonesia, people do hope that their government can do much in
dealing with natural hazards and disaster victims. In fact, Indonesia is not the only
country prone to natural disasters; many countries in Southeast Asia, and coun-
tries around the world, experience similar problems. Nevertheless, they may have
different methods and approaches to cope with the natural emergency events.
A major feature of the structure of governance in Indonesia is how it involves
three levels all intertwined—central government, provincial government and
regional government. There is invariably an inter-governmental aspect of dis-
aster management in term of building coordination among the stakeholders.
Further, several policies have been implemented to deal with natural disaster mana-
gement. However, natural disaster management is an area in local government
Table 1. The Impact of Disaster in Some Provinces of Indonesia
No Disaster Year Killed Homeless
1 Volcanic eruption, Yogyakarta 2010 259 303,000
2 Tsunami in Mentawai, West Sumatra 2010 503 15,000
3 Landslides, West Sumatra 2010 470 16.848
4 Flash floods, West Papua province 2010 148 9.016
5 Landslide in Palopo 2009 30 3.866
6 Earthquake, Java 2009 100 51.879
7 Earthquake, Padang, West Sumatra 2009 1,100 10.442
8 Floods and landslides, Java 2007 130 59.290
9 Sulawesi floods, landslides 2007 130 42.022
10 Sumatra earthquake 2007 73 141.216
11 Jakarta floods 2007 80 522.569
12 Sumatra floods 2006 300 350,000
13 Undersea earthquake, Java 2006 650 5.840
14 Sulawesi floods 2006 350 13,000
15 Earthquake, Yogyakarta region 2006 5,800 1.5 million
16 8.6-magnitude quake, Nias island 2006 900 12.542
17 Landslide, south of Jakarta 2005 140 3.530
18 Earthquake and tsunami, Sumatra 2004 168,000 460.312
Sources: Indonesia Statistics, Kemenkes (Kompas, 2010; Royat, 2009).

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