Indonesia has been long vulnerable to both geophysical and hydrometeorological natural disasters, and climate change is further escalating the country's risks to natural disasters. Indonesia's disaster mortality and economic loss indicators have climbed steeply over the last ten years as compared to the period between 1993-2002 - in stark contrast to the declines or smaller increases in other high hazard-risk Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, China, India, and the Philippines.1 Looking into the future, the Asian Development Bank estimates that economic losses due to climate change in Indonesia may reach 2.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2100, and when the chances of disasters due to climate change are taken into account, the economic losses could reach 7% of GDP.2
Hydrometeorological Natural Disasters in Indonesia
Recent trends in Indonesia indicate that hydrometeorological natural disasters are overtaking geophysical disasters in terms of incidence, mortality, and damages. Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) reported that 87% of all disasters that occured between 1982-2012 were hydrometeorological disasters in the forms of floods (38%), landslides (18%), typhoons (18%), droughts (13%), and surges (<1%), which together caused close to 14,000 human casualties.3 In addition, from 2004 to 2013, the economic losses due to disasters in Indonesia amounted to $11.5 billion USD.4 However, hydrometeorological natural disasters have traditionally received less attention than geophysical disasters in terms of disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts.
Climate Stresses and Impacts in Indonesia
Achievement of Indonesia's human and economic developemnt objectives depends on inputs like adequate supplies and quality of water, healthy soil, productive seeds, healthy fisheries, functioning ecosystems, adequate infrastructure, timely and useful information, effective governance structures, and others. Many of these inputs are being affected by both climate and non-climate stressors. Non-climate stressors include surface water pollution from poor sanitation systems and a lack of industrial water treatment; land subsidence and a dropping water table due to over-pumping of groundwater; reduced groundwater recharge, soil erosion and sedimentation of waterways due to poor land use practices including deforestation; poorly maintained infrastructure; unsustainable natural resource extraction; and rapid, unplanned urbanization.
On top of these and other non-climate stressors, climate change threatens to further challenge Indonesia's achievement of its development objectives:
- Sea levels are rising at an increasing rate: 7mm/ year from 1993-2008, which is more rapid than in past periods. By 2060, 50 cm of sea level rise is anticipated.5
- Rainfall patterns are changing, with continued climate change predicted to result in 2% to 3% more rainfall per year, with dry seasons lasting longer and wet seasons becoming shorter and more intense.6
- El Nino events are projected to increase in frequency, from the current of 3 to 7 year interval to happening every 2 to 3 years. El Nino and La Nina phenomena are well known to have impacts on rainfall variation, and also affect sea level and ocean weather by inducing more extreme waves up to 5 metres.7
- Droughts are increasing in frequency. Between 1844 and 1960, droughts in Indonesia occured on average every four years, but between 1961 and 2006, they occured every three years.8
The poorest people are often the hardest hit by climate change impacts, either because they already live on marginal lands, such as riverbanks, deforested areas, or flood plains, or because they have the lowest adaptive capacity due to a lack of education, financial resources, physical resources, and/ or government support. According to current estimates, approximately 32 million of Indonesia's 234 million people are living below the poverty line, and approximately half of Indonesia's households are clustered right at the poverty line.9 This means that a very large number of people are especially vulnerable to climate change and hydrometeorological disasters.10
1 World Bank, 2005. Natural Disaster Hotspots, A Global Risk Analysis. Washington, DC: Disaster Risk Management Series.
2 Asian Development Bank, 2009. The Economics of Climate Change in South East Asia: A Regional Review.
3 Rencana Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (Renas PB) 2015-2019.
4 Rencana Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (Renas PB) 2015-2019.
5 Ministry of Environment, 2007a. Indonesia CountryReport, Climate Variability and Climate Changes and Their Implication.
6 Ratag, M., 2007. Perubahan Iklim: Perubahan variasi curah hujan, cuaca dan iklim ekstrim. BMKG.
7 Bappenas, 2010b. Indonesia Climate Change Sectoral Roadmap (ICCSR); Synthesis Report.
8 Ministry of Environment, 2007a. Indonesia Country Report, Climate Variability and Climate Changes and Their Implication.
9 World Bank, 2014. Indonesia Overview: http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/indonesia/overview.
10 IPCC, 2013. Summary for Policymakers.