UNDP boosts recovery in earthquake-hit Padang

04 Nov 2009

• More heavy equipment arrives this week to help demolish dangerous buildings and remove more of the 1.5 million cubic meters of earthquake rubble

• Experts in planning, mapping, coordination to start work alongside regional and local governments to reduce the impact of future earthquakes

Padang — As people in earthquake-hit West Sumatra look to rebuild their lives, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) boosted its recovery support here this week, bringing in more heavy equipment to remove badly damaged homes, schools, mosques, and by fielding experts to work alongside government to reduce the impact of future earthquakes.

UNDP experts assist Padang's Department of Public Works to survey the city's dangerous buildings.

Photo: UNDP

“There are thousands of teetering buildings that pose a threat to people living and working nearby,” UNDP Country Director Håkan Björkman said. “Our experts are assisting the Public Works Department to survey these and coordinate teams to safely demolish some of the ones that are simply wreaked,” he said. “The clean-up job is massive - we estimate around 1.5 million cubic meters, or 375,000 small truckloads, of rubble needs removing,” he said. “To make a bigger dent in this massive job we’ve hired more bulldozers, trucks and other heavy equipment to start work this week,” he said.

The government is collecting Padang’s earthquake rubble at the bus terminal where UNDP hopes to install more equipment in the coming weeks and provide jobs for local people to transform mountains of debris into cheap breeze blocks for rebuilding homes.

Many of Padang’s teetering buildings are former government offices - the quakes damaged or destroyed more than 80%. “Members of our experienced team, normally based in Banda Aceh, were on the ground within hours of the earthquake,” Mr. Björkman said. “So, we knew early on that officials, and their ability to coordinate aid and recovery, were badly affected – they’d lost their offices, files, computers and, tragically, some colleagues,” he said.

Within days UNDP had supplied basic equipment like computers and furniture, enabling BAPPEDA, the Provincial Development Planning Agency, to resume work. Meanwhile, experts in planning, mapping, and coordinating recovery will begin work this week with regional and local governments. They will focus on reducing the impact of future earthquakes in the area.

The earthquakes, which struck on September 30 and October 1, killed more than 1,000 people and injured many more. “People in Padang are telling us they desperately want help to make life safer – they want homes, offices, schools and hospitals that are built according to the rules,” Mr. Björkman said. “Indonesia has excellent zoning laws and building guidelines. Adopting these is all cases could mean the difference between life and death for people in West Sumatra,” he said.

Contact Information

In Padang – Lisa Hiller at lisa.hiller@undp.org or +628121043114

In Jakarta – Olenka Priyadarsani at olenka.priyadarsani@undp.org or +6281314718320