World Bank offers up to $1.4 billion to help Indonesia boost disaster preparedness, recovery

The funds will support relief and reconstruction efforts in Lombok and Central Sulawesi, where communities are still picking up the pieces after a recent series of deadly disasters. PHOTO: ST FILE

NUSA DUA, BALI - The World Bank will offer quake-stricken Indonesia up to US$1 billion (S$1.37 billion) in funding to boost disaster preparedness and recovery.

The money will go towards helping the country shore up its resilience, as well as to support relief and reconstruction efforts in Lombok and Central Sulawesi, where 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 on Sunday (Oct 14), 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, in its statement, outlined some other possible aid 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 the rebuilding of critical public facilities and infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, roads, and water supply systems.

The money could go towards cash transfers to the 150,000 poorest families affected by disasters as well, a move aimed at helping disaster survivors get back on their feet by supporting employment and the local economy during the recovery period.

The World Bank also conducted a preliminary damage report to assess the cost of property and infrastructure impacted by the disaster in Central Sulawesi. 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 with Indonesia's Vice-President Jusuf Kalla last Friday, 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 rocked by a 7.4-magnitude tremor that triggered a powerful tsunami last month. This 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.

A fund-raising appeal to participants 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 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."

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