Economic Ruin Haunts Merapi Volcano Victims

Unless the government carries out a comprehensive recovery, hundreds of thousands of Merapi victims will face economic and social destruction.

“One of the worst impacts of the eruption is the destruction of people’s livelihood; the land cannot be used to grow plants and economic activity virtually stops,” said Agus Priyono after visiting disaster relief centers set up by the Poor People’s Union (SRMI) in Magelang municipality.

“Without recovery effort by the government, especially in infrastructure – road, bridges, irrigation, etc – and the replacement of destroyed crops, many people will fall into poverty.

According to the relief center coordinator, Wahyu, SRMI relief centers has not received adequate aid from the government; while government managed relief centers are well-stocked.

The government did try to centralize refugee shelter and aid distribution, but the refugees are spread out.

Magelang municipality recorded the highest number of refugees among the other municipalities, which was 82.944 people, on November 8th.

“In the relief center in Gondosuli village that shelters two hundred refugees and is located near the 20km volcano danger zone, the government so far had only given a kilogram of rice and a package of instant noodle for each family,” said Agus Priyono.

The center has also received some aid in the form of rice from nearby Catholic Church, while activists and peasant group in unaffected area nearby have donated their agricultural produce and vegetable.

“They need children and baby food, because most food that people donated were for grown-ups,” said Priyono.

Foodstuff and mineral water, baby’s needs including diaper, and sanitation like soap and detergent, are some goods that are highly needed

One house to shelter two refugee families.

Other than managing disaster centers in 8 districts, the SRMI also carried out the one-house-for-two-refugee-families program in order to provide more fair distribution of aid to volcano victims.

Locals who are still able to stay in their own house have also become victims that have suffered many losses, therefore they should also receive aid.

The SRMI has carried out this program in three villages, involving a total of about 450 people.

SRMI disaster relief center that shelter the largest number of refugees, about 300 people, was located in Sedayu village. (drb)

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