Central Java Earthquake Relief and Recovery Operation

passed since the Central Java earthquake occurred on May 27,2006.The Japanese Red Cross Society(JRCS)has deployed not only the relief operations centered on the reconstruction of totally or partially destroyed public facilities, but also operations that focus on regional development.One of those operations is the construction of rainwater reservoirs.

Gunung Kidul District, which is located in the east of Yogyakarta Province, has usually poor water resources and, particularly in the dry season, natural reservoirs dry up. In addition, the earthquake in 2006 affected even the areas that had had no problems (e.g., dried-up wells) with the water supply before the earthquake Therefore, the assurance of water for daily life and drinking water is an issue of critical importance for the local residents.

Gunung Kidul District is positioned in the mountainous area and the income level of the residents is lower than the national average. In addition, the residents have been purchasing water from private water suppliers after the earthquake and their lives are worsening economically.

Since August 2007, the JRCS, in cooperation with the Gunung Kidul branch of the Indonesian Red Cross Society, has been constructing 300 rainwater reservoirs in order to effectively use the rainwater brought during the rainy season as a countermeasure against the drought so that 1,000 families can use the water.A rainwater reservoir has been used in the drought-affected areas in the district for more than 20 years to respond to the drought and its construction technology has been established and is relatively simple. Also, its durability for long-term use has been demonstrated.

The project for constructing rainwater reservoirs has been progressing with local residents participating in the construction work, first hand, adopting the mutual help system which is inherent to Java Island. In terms of the sustainable effect of the project and the transfer of technology to other residents, this method could be effective for the following reasons: the residents can acquire the construction technology; it is possible for the residents to maintain the facilities after construction; and it is a method to bolster the sense of community among the residents.

Before the start of construction by the local residents, a survey of the residents who live in the drought-affected areas was conducted by the volunteers of the Indonesian Red Cross Society. Based on the results of the survey, the places where rainwater reservoirs would be built and the benefiting families were determined. After that, training sessions by engineers were held by inviting the benefiting families and the residents who would be engaged in the construction, leading up to the actual construction work by the residents.

Mrs. Spantirini (farmer, 31-year-old woman), one of the local residents who is a participant in the construction work, lives with her seven-month-old baby and husband. She had purchased 180 liters of water from a water supplier every day before the project started. The river which flows 2 km away from her house dries up in the dry season. She could not help but purchase the water for cooking and washing. Since she has an infant, she uses more water. When she learned that the JRCS would provide the materials for constructing rainwater reservoirs, she decided to join the construction work. She looks impressive because she actively works with her baby on her back. She happily commented, "I have no adequate words to express my appreciation to the JRCS."

Currently, the construction work has been temporarily interrupted by the continuous rainy season in Yogyakarta. However, there are plans to deploy the favorable accepted project to the extended areas next year.

Another local resident who participates in the work, Mr. Nugadiono (farmer, 60-year-old man), is the head of the village. According to Mr. Nugadiono, the residents tried to construct rainwater reservoirs several times in the village, but none of their attempts was successful. The reason they could not succeed was that they attempted the construction only by watching another's example. Regarding the benefits of the JRCS's rainwater reservoir construction project he pointed out the following: the construction method is simple and rainwater reservoirs can be constructed solely by the village residents, and construction materials will be provided without charge. Because the residents tried to build the rainwater reservoirs by themselves, resulting in failure in the past, they are happy that they have obtained the constructing skills. Mr. Nugadiono was highly motivated and said, "When the village becomes more affluent, we would like to build another rainwater reservoir."

Currently, the construction work has been temporarily interrupted by the continuous rainy season in Yogyakarta. However, there are plans to deploy the favorable accepted project to the extended areas next year.