Indonesia: La Nina brings country worst disasters in five years

Moses Ompusunggu, Arya Dipa, Syamsul Huda M. Suhari
The Jakarta Post 1 Nov 16;

Under the spell of La Niña, Indonesia is experiencing its worst hydrological catastrophes in the past five years, according to the country’s disaster mitigation agency.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) recorded that 1,853 natural disasters had happened between January and October, suggesting that 2016 would be the most calamitous year the country has seen in the last five years.

The BNPB estimated that the number of catastrophes throughout the year was likely to exceed the current record from 2014, during which 1,967 disasters occurred.

Of the 1,853 calamities from January to October, 89 percent were hydro-meteorological disasters such as flooding and landslides.

BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the strong La Niña weather phenomenon throughout the year, as well as the increasing sea surface temperature, partly contributed to the high number of disasters.

The La Niña phenomenon caused heavy rainfall from July to September, during which the country normally experiences a dry season.

Sutopo said that catastrophes happened in almost all provinces in the country from January to October, with most cases recorded in Central Java, where 456 disasters occurred, and in East Java, where 298 disasters affected citizens living in the province.

“Heavy rain will peak between December and February 2017. Disasters are likely to happen in areas prone to floods and landslides,” Sutopo said in a statement.

Floods and landslides in many regions across the country have killed 324 people and displaced 2,4 million citizens, BNPB estimated.

In Gorontalo, heavy rain continue to cause several rivers in the province to overflow. On Sunday, a river that runs into Lake Limboto overflowed and took the lives of three boys, Hutuo subdistrict denizens, who were swimming there.

A local NGO, Gorontalo Digital Area, estimated the floods in Gorontalo have affected about 23,000 residents in four regencies: Gorontalo, Boalemo, North Gorontalo and Bone Bolango.

Previously, Gorontalo environmental activist Rahman Dako said that apart from the extreme weather, the widespread floods were caused by extensive environmental destruction in the region.

West Java deputy governor Deddy Mizwar claimed his administration had done its best to control excessive construction in North Bandung, which is considered a major cause of the worsening annual floods in Bandung.

Deddy said the West Java administration was planning to abrogate a Bandung mayoral regulation on spatial planning in Bandung, as he alleged foul play occurred that allowed a developer to build a condotel in the protected area of the city.

Bandung mayor Ridwan Kamil said that spatial planning in the Bandung basin was required to provide directives on how to mitigate perennial flooding in the area.

The government is preparing a presidential regulation to do spatial planning in the area, which consists of Bandung, Cimahi, Bandung regency, Sumedang regency and some parts of West Bandung regency.

A draft bylaw will also initiate spatial planning in North Bandung, which is a designated water catchment area for the city.

North Bandung has historically supplied 60 percent of the 108 million cubic meters of groundwater the city uses annually.

Surakarta braces for bad weather until 2017
The Jakarta Post 2 Nov 16;

The Surakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has issued a “disaster alert” status effective from November 2016 to January 2017 due to extreme weather that could potentially lead to natural disasters in the region.

“Based on a study from the BMKG [Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency], rainfall will be very high, even until March 2017. During this period, there is a very high risk of floods and landslides in the region,” Surakarta BPBD executive head Gatot Sutanto said on Monday.

He said the implementation of the status could be extended if necessary.

To mitigate the impact, Gatot said the local government had begun continuous monitoring of the water levels of the Bengawan Solo River as well as other smaller rivers such as the Pepe, Anyar, Jenes, and Premulung rivers.

The agency is also rigorously checking the functionality of disaster infrastructure.

Separately, Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo acknowledged that the poor condition of drainage systems had increased the risk of flooding in the city.

“For short-term anticipation, we are preparing the quick-response and early-warning systems,” he said.

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