Emergency support ready in disaster-prone region

Indonesia, January 30, 2014

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Stella Yovita Arya Puteri/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Members of our Indonesia Response Team were among the first to respond to extreme flooding in villages in Karawang, Indonesia this month. Photo: Stella Yovita Arya Puteri/Mercy Corps

For Beni, this flood was not the first she'd seen. But it was the biggest.

The rain began pounding her village in Karawang, Indonesia a little over a week ago, and the floodwaters quickly forced her to flee her home with her one-month-old newborn infant.

“As the flood came, I immediately evacuated my baby to my parents’ house, because their land is higher than mine,” she recalled.

Beni's story is not unique in Karawang, a low-lying city on the Citarum River in western Indonesia's West Java province. The waist-high water lingered for a week, flooding schools, roads, rice fields and more than 35,000 homes across 146 villages in the region, and prompting the government to declare it an emergency situation.

Six members of our Indonesia Response Team deployed to the area immediately and worked with partners to distribute hygiene kits, jerry cans and tarps to 4,500 people displaced or affected by the flood. It was the first emergency aid their villages had received since the torrential rains began.

Karawang is at risk of flooding every rainy season, when the river swells and the area's poor irrigation system is overwhelmed by the rainfall and overflow. We've been working there for the last year to improve the water and sanitation infrastructure to help address problems like this and help alleviate recurring flooding in the future.

It's essential for us to work on longer-term solutions to the chronic hazards that plague Indonesia — an assembly of more than 17,000 islands located in one of the most storm-prone and seismically-active areas on earth. But we must also be prepared to respond to the high number of natural disasters that occur on a regular basis.

That's why we formed our Indonesia Response Team in 2007. The members are trained and ready to respond to catastrophes in the region, quickly assessing needs and getting essential aid to affected communities. In the last six years, they have responded to 10 floods and earthquakes, one volcanic eruption, and most recently deployed to the Philippines to support the relief effort after Typhoon Haiyan.

In Karawang this month, the IRT did a rapid assessment and focused on reaching the most vulnerable groups: mothers and children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with special needs. In order to track the distribution and make sure the kits were reaching the target beneficiaries, the team gave out vouchers that were were then exchanged for the supplies at the distribution.

"We are so glad to get help like this," Beni said.

It's a system that the team is skilled at setting up quickly, working with the local government to make sure that we are providing the supplies that are most needed by the communities. What matters most is that families can make it through the immediate aftermath and quickly get on the road to recovery.

How you can help

Your support allows our teams to respond as quickly as possible after natural disasters like this in Indonesia. You can help us rush supplies to displaced families, prevent the spread of disease and help survivors rebuild stronger here and around the world. Donate today ▸