Jakarta to get $1.4b from World Bank for disaster readiness, relief

A stranded ship at a port hit by last month's deadly tsunami, triggered by a 7.4-magnitude tremor, in Palu in Central Sulawesi. The funds offered by the World Bank will go towards helping Indonesia shore up its defence against natural disasters, as w
A stranded ship at a port hit by last month's deadly tsunami, triggered by a 7.4-magnitude tremor, in Palu in Central Sulawesi. The funds offered by the World Bank will go towards helping Indonesia shore up its defence against natural disasters, as well as supporting relief and reconstruction efforts in Lombok and Central Sulawesi.PHOTO: REUTERS

The World Bank will offer quake-stricken Indonesia up to US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) to boost disaster preparedness and recovery.

The money will go towards helping the country shore up its defence against natural disasters, as well as supporting relief and reconstruction efforts in Lombok and Central Sulawesi, where the communities are still picking up the pieces after a recent series of deadly disasters left thousands dead and displaced scores more.

Funds will be made available when requested by the Indonesian government, said the World Bank in a statement yesterday, as a marathon week of annual meetings in Bali by the organisation and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) drew to a close.

Of the US$1 billion, US$5 million will be set aside for technical assistance to help with recovery and reconstruction planning.

The World Bank outlined some other options for which the remaining funds could be used, including the strengthening of monitoring and early warning systems, as well as an emergency recovery programme for rebuilding critical public facilities and infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, roads and water supply systems.

The money could also go towards cash transfers to the 150,000 poorest families affected by disasters, it added.

The World Bank conducted a preliminary damage needs report to assess the cost of property and infrastructure hit by the disaster in Central Sulawesi as well.

 
 
 

Its estimate was US$531 million - a figure that excludes loss of life, lost land and disruption to the economy.

World Bank chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva, who visited Palu in Central Sulawesi last Friday with Indonesia's Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, said: "The government's immediate relief efforts are robust and impressive.

"As we enter the reconstruction period, we are making up to US$1 billion of comprehensive support available for Indonesia. The best memorial for those who lost their lives is to build back better."

Central Sulawesi was last month rocked by a 7.4-magnitude tremor that triggered a deadly tsunami - events that came on the heels of a series of quakes that jolted Lombok and Bali.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, making it vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Just last Thursday, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake off East Java province and Bali rattled some hotels where delegates of the IMF-World Bank meetings were housed.

Indonesia's resilience in the face of disaster was praised at the meetings which, amid spirited discussions on trade and economic matters, also shone the spotlight on pressing concerns such as disaster financing and tackling famines.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said at a press conference yesterday: "For a country to be able to maintain such a strong response to disaster, and to run a meeting like this, is truly remarkable."

A fund-raising appeal was launched at the meetings, and prominent figures such as IMF chief Christine Lagarde and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Palu and Lombok in a show of support as well.

Indonesia's Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said: "The government appreciates the attention and support of the international community in our time of need, including from the World Bank Group.

"Restoring lives and livelihoods of the people affected by natural disasters is the government's utmost priority."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2018, with the headline 'Jakarta to get $1.4b from World Bank for disaster readiness, relief'. Print Edition | Subscribe