The Jakarta Globe, February 5 2014
Jakarta. With a wave of natural disasters hitting the country over recent months, including flooding and volcanic eruptions, thousands of people have been displaced and left reliant on the good will of others.
However, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said that the influx of aid given in response to calls for assistance has led to some recipients being selective over what food or clothing they choose to accept according to a study.
“According to reports from Karo administration officials, some students became lazy and refused to return home due to the influx of aid in the temporary shelters.
“This relative plenty has made them reliant on aid and less motivated to study,” said BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho in a press release on Tuesday.
Sutopo said that a study by Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta found that the more aid the displaced people received, the less willing the victims were to pay for items.
Sutopo said developing a reliance on something for nothing was an unhealthy trend. “Aid should be in the form of empowerment, not just by providing goods,” he said.
To address this issue, the BNPB along with the North Sumatra University and Medan State University will rent accommodation for children to attend classes in the hope that a dedicated study area may motivate students.
Meanwhile, in Jakarta, the overwhelming response from the general public to flood victims has seen some residents reject offered aid, much to the horror of donors and volunteers.
”Last year, my neighbor and I raised money to buy raw food for flood victims who lived near our place.
“Unfortunately, they rejected it and asked for ready to eat food and argued that it would be more practical,” Sartono, who lives in Cipinang, East Jakarta was quoted as saying by Kompas.com.
Sartono said that the people in his neighborhood then set up a makeshift kitchen and cooked all the raw food and placed the cooked food into clean boxes and took it to the victims.
“But we were shocked. When we arrived, the flood victims asked us what the food box contained and they seemed less than impressed by what we had brought. They didn’t touch our donated food,” he said.
Sartono said he and his neighbors were speechless, adding that even though the food was not fancy, it was healthy and nutritious.
Ratih, a resident of Sentul, Bogor, who happened to be in Cawang, East Jakarta last week, was amazed when she saw some flood victims throwing away food that they picked up from a makeshift public kitchen which had been set up by the Jakarta Social Affairs Agency.
“They tasted it and then threw it all away near the relief post. It’s crazy, they didn’t eat it but they also threw just threw it where they wanted.
“There was so much wasted food they just threw away and it was later cleared away by volunteers,” said Ratih.
It’s not just food that was being given short shrift. If donated clothes fell short of people’s expectations, they were left in piles, untouched.
A resident of Bukit Duri, on the banks of the Ciliwung in South Jakarta, who saw floods inundate his house and was forced to evacuate, expressed his frustration last week, saying he was fed up eating instant noodles and wearing ugly clothes.
Back in North Sumatra, the central government has put on hold plans to purchase land from local residents to relocate people displaced from the Sinabung explosions following complaints from the intended beneficiaries.
“The land for the relocation has been found and purchased by the district administration and we now have a team going out and informing residents of the move,” said North Sumatra provincial secretary Nurdin Lubis in Medan, North Sumatra on Monday.
Nurdin said the new land, about seven to eight kilometers from the volcano, was for people who lived within a two-kilometer radius of Sinabung.
“It is important we get the message out to people and we propose a two month period of consultation and information,” said Nurdin.
“The first part of the process will cover the approximately 1,000 people who live within a two-mile radius of the volcano. If they agree, the relocation can go ahead smoothly.”
The provincial secretary went on to explain the central government was coordinating the land purchases while building works would be carried out by the Public Works Ministry
Karo district administration was planning to provide 25 hectares of land, purchased from local residents, for the relocation of the 1,109 affected households.
However, it seems not all the residents are appreciative of the government’s efforts to relocate them to a safe distance from the smoking volcano.
Many residents have reportedly told officials they were unwilling to move unless the government provided them with farm land near their new homes. If they couldn’t earn a living, residents said they would rather not move.
The residents also asked they be allowed to manage their old farms on the slopes of Sinabung, saying they had at least two hectares that had been in their families for generations.
“If we still own the land but the government relocates us far away that would add to our hardship. We live off the land and to spend a large sum of money commuting on a daily basis would take up much of our income,” said Josua, one of the affected farmers.
The farmer understood if they did return to their land after Sinabung had calmed down, they would be faced with many problems trying to pick up the pieces of their previous lives.
In addition to repairing their properties, Josua said they would need food, medicine and seeds so they can start to get their lives back on track.
“We also need heavy equipment to manage the farm and loans from banks to cover our losses as well as seeds to start planting again. It won’t be easy and will take us some time before we can return to normal,” said Elisa Tarigan, from one of the affected villages.
Elisa added most of the people who lived in the 34 villages on the mountain were simple farmers. Sinabung’s pyrotechnics over the last few months meant many had lost their livelihoods and seen them suffer losses totaling billions of rupiah.