Students at Hiligambukha Elementary School in Indonesia celebrate a new, safe school building that LWR helped put in place after the old building was destroyed in a 2005 earthquake. They used to have to ask students to go home when it rained, simply because, “they could not study at school due to leaking roofs, and flooded floor[s],” said a teacher.
This is part of LWR’s larger work in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Indonesia, an approach that we find vital to our work. While our name may be Lutheran World Relief, “relief” is far from all we do when it comes to disasters. We know that many natural disasters happen around the world, whether we want them or not. And women, boys and girls are 14 times more likely than men to die during a disaster. So LWR works with communities who are especially vulnerable to disasters to build their resiliency and help reduce their risks to future disasters.
In Indonesia, this is especially important. We have been working in Indonesia since the devastating Asian tsunami of December 2004 that killed an estimated 225,000 people and 655,000 left homeless in scattered refugee camps across the province of Aceh and Nias.
Indonesia has a population of 220 million, and more than 50% of that population lives within 10km of the coastline. This nation of islands is widely recognized as one of the most disaster-prone areas of the world, and Lutheran World Relief has invested heavily to reduce the risk of communities there.
Paul Drossou, LWR’s Country Director for Indonesia, says, “successful DRR programs are about empowering local communities with knowledge and capacity to plan, manage and to take action in the event of a disaster. Volunteerism and community coordination is vital in disasters and for the prevention of loss of lives and property”.
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So in honor of International Day for Disaster Reduction, we stand proudly with the boys and girls of Indonesia as they build safer lives and schools!