Strengthening the Disaster Resilience in Indonesia

4685734-6229307-image-a-26_1538439770642 Earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2018(Photo by: Reuters).

Why Disaster Resilience Important?

Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, frequently exposed to a range of hazards. Over 60% of Indonesia's districts are exposed to a high risk of flooding. Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire with 127 active volcanoes, Indonesia also faces high seismic, tsunami and volcanic risk. Disasters have a big impact for people as well as the economy in Indonesia. Living in hazardous areas, lacking access to basic services, and having limited assets and financial resources, the poor and vulnerable bear the brunt of disaster impacts.

The process of urbanization opens the door for a variety of benefits, for example by reducing the fixed costs per person of new disaster-resilient infrastructure. Rapid or poorly planned urban development also bears certain risks, including growing exposure of assets (such as residential housing and critical urban infrastructure) and people to disaster risk. Some 110 million people, approximately 42% of the population, across roughly 60 Indonesian cities are exposed to natural hazards (Gunawan et al., 2015).

How Exposed are Indonesian Cities to Disasters?

Indonesian cities face a range of natural hazards, particularly floods, earthquakes and tsunami, volcanic activity, landslides, storms and fires (CRED, 2018). Over the past 15 years, there is a total of 4,856 disasters across Indonesia's multi- and single-district metropolitan areas (World Bank, 2019). Approximately 25% of all disaster events in Indonesia, were recorded in the Indonesia Disaster Data Information (DiBi) database, maintained by the National Disaster Management Authority (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana – BNPB). 

Number of natural disasters in Indonesia between 2010 and 2020 (BNPB, 2021).

Actions for Urban Disaster Resilience

The role of women in disasters is not merely as victims, but rather as active stakeholders in DRR planning (UNISDR, 2007). The one UN program that concerns disaster preparation has focused on the need for increasing community resilience in response to disasters, climate change, temporary relocated persons, humanitarian assistance, disease transmission, and gender equality (UN, 2009).

It is very important to realize that urban authorities need to prepare city disaster risk management plans to enhance disaster resilience and multihazard early warning and mapping. Men and women must work together to recover from the impact of a disaster. Generally, women are predominantly seen as helpless in these societies, and recently, attempts have been made to involve vulnerable groups (including women) in the decision-making process. In gender-specific planning, the emphasis remains on taking particular care of marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as women, children, the disabled, and the elderly, to ensure that they receive sufficient attention during emergencies (Samiullah et al., 2015).

Coherence with Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement

Updated DRM strategies and focus areas and their synergies with priorities in other development domains should be reflected in the latest National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2020–2024, launched in early 2020 and currently subject to further review. In terms of integrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into development planning, Indonesia has made stellar progress in recognizing the issue as a whole-of-society one, with the intention to decentralize and drive the implementation progress from the sub-national levels to guarantee equally committed landscape of governance (Bhowmick, 2019). 

Some of the synergies between international agreements and different policies and commitments of Indonesia in various sectors (UNDRR, 2020).

The Role of Local Community in Building Disaster Resilience

The importance of such concepts as one of the approach to manage and reduce disaster risk we know in 2001 the government, civil societies and communities across Southeast Asia participated in the Partnerships for Disaster Reduction-South East Asia that promotes Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) (Nareth, 2017). CBDRM is becoming healthier for Southeast Asia because this region consist of countries that are prone to disasters.

The Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ACPC) defines the role of communities in disaster mitigation as those who are active in identifying, analyzing, treating, monitoring, and evaluation of disaster risk in order to reduce their vulnerabilities and enhance their capacities (Abarquaze & Murshed, 2004).

  1. Identification is the possibility that the community can identify what needs to be conveyed and what preparations are needed before a disaster occurs.
  2. Analyzing is to see how the community is able to analyze from identification activities to filter some data in the field and adjust the conditions needed before conveying it to the community.
  3. Treating, showing that the community is able to provide the best service in pre, during, and post-disaster events and assists in the process of understanding how to deal with disasters.
  4. Monitoring, which is to see whether the suitability of the information conveyed to the community in disaster-prone areas is in accordance with the initial concept or not.
  5. Evaluation is an activity to evaluate and measure how the activities are carried out with the natural disasters encountered.


Abarquaze, I., & Murshed, Z. (2004). Community-Based Disaster Risk Management: Field Practitioners Handbook. Thailand: Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre.

Bhowmick, S., 2019. SDGs in Progress: Lessons from Indonesia. Asia Times.

Gunawan, Iwan; Sagala, Saut; Amin, Suryani; Zawani, Hoferdy; Mangunsong, Ruby. 2015. City Risk Diagnostic for Urban Resilience in Indonesia. Jakarta: World Bank.

CRED (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters). 2018. "General Classification." EM-DAT: The Emergency Events Database. Brussels. Accessed August 14, 2018.

Samiullah, Rahman A., & Shaw, R. 2015. Gender and disaster risk reduction in Pakistan. In A. Rahman, A. N. Khan, & R. Shaw (Eds.), Disaster risk reduction approaches in Pakistan (pp. 379–394). Tokyo: Springer.

UNISDR. 2007. Gender Perspective: Working Together for Disaster Risk Reduction: Good Practices and Lessons Learned Geneva, June 2007. United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reductiona, Geneva.

United Nations (UN). 2009. One UN Program in Pakistan. Improving lives and helping people. United Nations Reform in Pakistan.

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