National Launching of Household Recovery Survey and Disaster Recovery Index

27 Nov 2013

Your Excellency, Mr. Syamsul Ma’arif, Head of BNPB; Bapak Bambang Sulistianto, Deputy of BNPB for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction; Other distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.

It is an honor and a pleasure for me to join you this morning and deliver these opening remarks at the launching of the national household recovery survey and the world’s first Disaster Recovery Index.

On my way to this launch, I was reading with interest the latest information on the eruption of Mount Sinabung in Sumatra. As many of you know, the eruption follows less than a week after Mount Merapi in Jogjarkata started showing signs of a possible eruption. Volcanic eruptions have almost become a daily occurrence in Indonesia. But it is not only volcanoes. We all know that Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.   

For most of us a major disaster is something we read about in the newspapers or watch on the news. But for each disaster there are often thousands of people, sometimes millions, who are directly affected, who suffer considerable loss, and who struggle to put their lives back in order afterwards.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of the Philippines who were so devastated by the recent typhoon which killed thousands and affected millions.

Helping disaster-hit communities get back on track has always been one of UNDP’s core mandate. For us building community resilience to disasters and helping people, families and communities recover from disasters is key to helping a country develop.

Just last week, UNDP launched a multi-million dollar cash-for work programme in the Philippines following the deadly Haiyan Typhoon. The scheme will provide much-needed income for at least 200-thousand households in the next six months.

In the aftermath of the Tsunami in Aceh and Nias, UNDP was also there, helping to build back infrastructure like roads, landfills and bridges, helping local governments to return to normal and provide services to the citizens, helping to restore livelihoods, and to clear debris among other things.

This is the same approach we took after the Mentawi tsunami and the 2010 Merapi volcanic eruption.

Our mission is to help build back better – to ensure that in the future communities are better prepared not only in terms of their knowledge and awareness, but also in terms of the infrastructure – roads, housing, and so forth.

Ladies and gentlemen, today’s launch is very important because it is designed to improve our knowledge of how well we are all doing in the job of helping communities to recover after a disaster. In the sixty or more years in which we have been working with communities we have learnt a lot. We have learnt that disaster recovery is not just about providing short-term relief to battered communities. It is not just about rebuilding infrastructure. And it is not only about helping local governments to resume their normal functions. What we have found is that sometimes we overlook critical things, such as the psychological and social dimensions of what is needed for people to return to normal life. To really assess the strength and the effectiveness of a disaster recovery programme, we need tools that can help us. This is what today is about.   

Up until today, there has been no consensus on how to measure the success of post-disaster recovery programmes. How do we know that the job is done? That normalcy has returned? That communities are better prepared for the future? That people’s lives have returned to normal? These tools that we have before us will help. Today, Indonesia is recording another milestone in disaster management with the launching of the disaster recovery index – the first of its kind in the world.

The disaster recovery index will look at a range of indicators and measures of recovery, and will provide extremely valuable information to policy makers here in Indonesia and potentially around the world on how to design long-term recovery processes. It will also help communities and governments to build back better, socially, economically and culturally by improving our understanding of what the recovery process really requires.  In other words, this is a comprehensive instrument that can help communities to get back on their feet more effectively.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are also here for the national launch of the household recovery survey.

The household recovery survey is an all-round instrument designed to study the success of rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes and how households recover over time. The survey is a key tool used in the disaster recovery index. The development of the disaster recovery index stemmed from the question of why some areas recover more quickly than others, and what were the key variables for successful recovery.  The survey helps us to answer those questions.

After the Merapi eruption and the implementation of the recovery programme, the first round of household surveys was carried out in 2012. Findings from the survey were used by local governments of Yogyakarta and Central Java to formulate their 2013 recovery action plans. A second round of surveys is planned for the end of 2013. These will be carried out by the DRR Forum in collaboration with BNPB, Bappenas, UNDP and Survey Meter. The intention of this second round of household surveys is to provide an overview of how far the recovery has come and inform ongoing post-disaster recovery efforts.

Although still at an early stage, these instruments show great potential. Data and information from the survey and the index can potentially lead to more targeted and timely policy and planning interventions, improving the chances of successful community recovery. We therefore encourage the continuation of regular panel surveys to provide dynamic information on the needs of individuals and communities recovering from disasters. We also encourage household surveys to be carried out at more frequent intervals; ideally every six months; because we have seen that the needs of communities change during the recovery process. We hope that BNPB will adopt these new tools and apply them to other post-disaster recovery contexts.

Excellency, Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

UNDP is very pleased to see the progress that Indonesia has made in disaster management over the past five years, and also the level of innovation that has taken place in terms of developing lessons learnt and new tools and methodologies. Indonesia is helping to develop international standards, best practices and tools and more and more we are seeing other countries wanting to learn from Indonesia’s experiences. To give one example, UNDP is helping to organize a visit by Indonesian officials to the Philippines to advise their government on the recovery process. Another example, we have also seen countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and others show an interest in using the Post Disaster Needs Assessment tool (or PDNA) developed here in Indonesia. And we have also gotten requests from other countries such as Myanmar to learn more about Indonesia’s disaster management tools and institutions.

Indonesia has also earned international recognition for its work on DRR, and as many of you know President SBY’s efforts have been globally recognized, and he is known to be a global champion for disaster risk reduction.

Over the coming few years UNDP looks forward to partnering with the Government of Indonesia and with national actors such as Universities and NGOs, to further develop systems for south-south cooperation so that Indonesia can share more of its valuable experiences.

Ladies and gentlemen, before I conclude I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate BNPB for taking a lead role on championing these innovative new tools. Let me also thank the BPBDs and DRR platforms of Yogyakarta and Central Java as well as Survey Meter who have all been actively involved in designing and  piloting the household survey exercise and have contributed to the development of the recovery index.

While BNPB has invested substantial resources to make the household survey possible, we also acknowledge the support provided by New Zealand Aid Programme through the Indonesia Multi-Donor Facility for Disaster Recovery. This support was crucial in helping to develop the instruments, prepare the data analysis and report on the survey. 

Let me use this opportunity to reiterate our commitment to continue supporting the Government of Indonesia to develop and use innovative instruments and tools that can help to save lives, and help people to recover from disasters. We hope that these tools will be formally adopted as part of the government’s regulatory framework and will become standard practice in disaster management in Indonesia.

Thank you.