Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Lack of coordination among stakeholders in handling natural disasters continues despite the fact that repeated disasters have hit the country over the last several years, a two-day workshop on disaster management concluded Thursday.
Many have criticized the performance of the National Coordinating Agency for Disaster Management (Bakornas PB), which is supposed to be at the forefront of disaster relief efforts, for its sluggishness in coordinating stakeholders involved in the efforts.
As a result, groups and institutions going to affected areas to assist victims often work on their own without cooperation from others, workshop participants said in joint media conference.
Maj. Gen. Dadi Susanto, director general of defense strategy at the Defense Ministry, said although preventive measures had been taken the country still faced problems whenever a catastrophe occurred.
"Based on our experiences over the last couple of years, typical problems in disaster relief include uneven distribution of aid and slow evacuation of victims. These are caused by poor coordination among institutions," Dadi said.
"We need to improve collaboration between institutions to build more concrete and effective actions," he said.
"Also, the key is anticipation in order to minimize the risks."
He said it was important to empower and train people, especially those living in disaster-prone areas, to make them alert and well-prepared whenever disaster strikes.
In an effort to improve disaster management, in March the government enacted a new regulation. Included in the regulation is the conversion of Bakornas PB into the National Agency on Disaster Management (BNPB).
Indonesia and Australia will co-chair an international event called Disaster Relief Exercise next year. The event is one of the results from the recent ASEAN regional forum of senior officials.
The event, to be attended by participants from 27 countries, will take place in Jakarta.