Friday, August 11, 2006

A plea from two diaster affected communities to help one another

The slow and tiring eruption of Mount Merapi seems to bring more impacts on the local community than many people realize. Some of the more important ones include lack of water, destruction of crops, and inability to plant - due to heavy ash coverage.

Two days ago, Sukiman, a community leader in the dusun of Deles, said that replanting (after current crops have been destroyed) will have to be held back until the rainy season starts. Given the weird weather condition in Indonesia nowadays, who knows when this will start. In the past it's been from October until April. This means the farming community will have no work and income for at least 4 months.

As for water, many wells and springs have been covered by ash so bad that it's impossible to extract clean water. Many communities in the Merapi slope now have to buy water. A 5,000 Liter container of water costs Rp 125,000 (USD 12.5), and a family (including their livestock!) can consume this for a maximum of ten days. This means an additional expenditure of 1.25 dollars a day per family. Quite significant.

So what can we do to help them? Simple. Let them help their fellow communities in Southern Yogyakarta and Klaten, whose houses were destroyed by the May 27th earthquake.

How so?
The Merapi community has access to an almost endless supply of bamboo. And the community members are experts in constructing a bamboo house. Twelve bamboo poles as posts, combined with walls made of bamboo sheets, and tin roofs, then we'd have a 4 by 6 meter temporary house that can last at least 4 years. Once the materials have been prepared, one Merapi resident can assemble an average of two houses per day. After we calculated the costs to gather and prepare materials, transport, and assembly, one house would cost about Rp 1.8 million (USD 180). Complete, all-in.

If someone is smart enough to allocate resources for this, then these are the benefits:
  1. Better social cohesion between the Merapi volcano community (majority farmers) and the communities affected by the earthquake (many craftmakers, farmers, and urban day workers)
  2. Communities affected by the earthquake will immediately be able to produce again, once they have a stable shelter.
  3. Communities affected by the volcano will be able to have funds/capital to replant again.

A three-in-one deal. Anyone interested?

PS: First photo taken from Jalin Merapi. Second photo from Saksigempa.

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