Disaster Management

Logistics Assessment during Emergency

It is important that the humanitarian agencies sustain their capacity to respond in an effective and timely manner when disasters / emergencies occur. Normally, agencies will send their assessment team to go to the disaster sites and it is very important to include logistician to conduct logistics assessment in order to understand how the logistics services are to be provided.

The overall objective of the logistics assessment is to ensure that appropriate and adequate arrangements are made to respond in a timely, effective and appropriate manner to the needs of the affected people.

Log for blog

The strategy of the assessment normally made in order to answer six questions:

  1. Who – who are the beneficiaries or affected people
  2. Where – location of the beneficiaries or affected people
  3. What – identifies most urgent needs or prioritization
  4. When – when the relief items is needed or to be delivered
  5. How many – total quantity of relief items needed or required
  6. How – this is logistics part – how the relief items will deliver / send to the beneficiaries – this will talk about transport, warehouse, handling, packaging as well as communications and other supporting activities.

Based on the above, we could see that the most important part of the logistics assessment during disaster is to identify impact on the transport infrastructure as well as resource infrastructure, e.g. airport, sea port or river port, roads, bridges, local trucking capacity, vehicle rent, warehouses, electricity and other supporting information.

The assessment should also highlight any special concerns, for example airport congestion, customs clearance procedures, labor issues etc.

Logistics assessment during emergency will be depending on the circumstances or depend on the scale of the disaster. Normally, assessment cycle will include:

  1. Identify information needs and sources
  2. Collect data and information
  3. Analyze and interpret data
  4. Conclusion including provide logistics response plan
  5. Design or modify the response
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Command System in the Emergency Response

In the emergency situation, we often hear different information about number of casualties and damage, also uneven aid distribution, lack of cooperation between the various stakeholders and so on.  Situations like this are usually caused by a lack of coordination among stakeholders or related agencies.

Incident Commander

To deal with the above situation, we need a command system to coordinate, control, monitor and evaluate emergency response activities. The command system is also known as the Incident Command System (ICS).

In general, the command system of the emergency response is a disaster emergency management system that is used to synergize and integrate the use of all available resources, human resources, equipment and funds or budget.

Or other definitions from Wikipedia:

The Incident Command System (ICS) is “a systematic tool used for the command, control, and coordination of emergency response” according to the United States Federal Highway Administration. A more detailed definition of an ICS according to the United States Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance is “a set of personnel, policies, procedures, facilities, and equipment, integrated into a common organizational structure designed to improve emergency response operations of all types and complexities.

Establishment of command system in the emergency response is usually done at the time of emergencies include:

  1. Emergency standby (preparedness) phase. Establishment of command system at this stage is usually performed for the type of disaster that happens gradually, like a flood or volcanic eruption. At this stage, operations control center is usually located in the region concerned (provincial / district / city).
  2. Emergency response phase. Establishment of command system at this stage is usually performed for the type of disaster that occurs suddenly, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides.
  3. Transition phase from emergency response phase to recovery phase.

Establishment of command system for the disaster that occurs suddenly is usually done after going through the following four stages:

1. Information about the initial event of disaster. This information can be obtained from various sources, to create a simple formula:

  • What: type of disaster
  • When: day, date, month, year, hour, local time
  • Where: location/place/disaster area
  • Who: number of casualties and infrastructure damage
  • Why: the cause of the disaster
  • How: what efforts have been made and what urgent needs

2. Assignment of Rapid Response Team. Based on the information about the initial event of disaster, the government or relevant agencies send Rapid Response Team to immediately conduct a quickly and accurate assessment also to provide the necessary support services for emergency response. The results of assessment from Rapid Response Team will be an input and consideration to the Government or related agencies to determine the next steps or to determine the status or level of disaster.

3. Determination status or level of disaster. Based on the input from Rapid Response Team (point 2 above), the government will set a status or level of disaster. At this stage the Government will also sometimes assign an officer as a Commander for Disaster Emergency Response in accordance with state or disaster level (national or regional scale).

4. Establishment of Disaster Emergency Response Command. Government in this regard the President / Governor / Regent / Mayor will issue a decree forming Disaster Emergency Response Command and immediately activate it. Mobilization of all resources is also usually done at this stage.

Emergency Command System is typically a single command organization. The chain of command and responsibilities are clearly. Usually all stakeholders will be coordinated within the organization is based on a unity of command. This organization can be formed at all levels of the region, at the central / national, provincial and district / city.

In general, basic organization structure of the Command System in the Emergency Response:

1. Incident Commander.

2. Deputy Incident Commander.

3. Command Unit:

  • Secretariat
  • Public Relations
  • Safety and Security
  • Liaison Officers from all respective stakeholders

4. General Unit:

  • Planning Section
  • Operations Section
  • Logistics, Equipment Section
  • Finance and Administration

The organizational structure above can be narrowed or expanded based on the needs.

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Coordination is Essential for Emergency Response


During the emergency/disaster response, we often hear the word coordination, coordinate, and the like. It is easy to say coordination and coordination, but in reality very difficult to run and achieve it. For example, during the emergency response of floods in Jakarta in early 2013, we noticed that a lot of turmoil distributions of basic necessities due to lack of coordination between the authorities, relief parties/donors and communities affected by the disaster. We saw from mass media, affected people at the evacuation centers complained that they have not received any aid, but on the other hand we also saw that a lot of aid has been given. The questions then where the given aid and why many affected people still complained not get it? Apparently at the time, a lot of aid have only been stored at posko and has not been given to the affected people due to lack of coordination!

Shortly after disaster struck, many people, individually, organizations and government agencies immediately plunged into the location and provide humanitarian assistance. All parties came with their own interests so often competing priorities occurred. It can be seen from the lack of services and support provided to the affected people/communities, one example as mentioned above. Another example is duplication of effort so it can create inappropriate assistance. I have experience the same situation when I was participating in the emergency response in one area sometime ago. At the time, almost all parties/donors sent food aid, until finally the affected people refused to accept any food aid. Actually what urgently required at the time is basic medicines and medical assistance, but due to lack of coordination in the management of information, therefore the aid as per requirement came very late.

Definition of coordination based on free dictionary artikata.com is regarding the set of an organization or activity to ensure that rules and actions to be implemented are not contradictory or confusing or we can say coordination is the regulation of diverse elements into an integrated and harmonious operation. Some synonyms for coordination are harmonization, alignment, organization, and synchronization.

From the above definitions and synonyms, we could see that coordination does not occur within the short time. Coordination should be done well long before the disaster. Coordination of emergency response must be made by all stakeholders from government, private sectors, other relevant organizations and communities itself.

In general, to be able to make a good coordination system, there are several things should be considered, namely:

  1. Participatory of all stakeholders involved in the emergency situation. The tasks of coordination within a structure and process agreed and supported by all of stakeholders. A person or an agency or organization designated as the coordinator should be able to build a good atmosphere and mutual respect among all stakeholders.
  2. Impartial. Coordination should aim to provide assistance in accordance with the requirements irrespective of ethnicity/race, religion, political choices/affiliate, gender or age. Attention should be given to the vulnerable groups, children, the elderly, the disabled and pregnant women. Coordination should not be made to favor one agency or organization over another.
  3. Coordination should be done in transparent way. Coordination requires trust from all of stakeholders. Every decision making process and the provision of information should be done in a transparent and honest, even in cases of failure remains to be informed and not be covered up to a certain interest.
  4. Should be beneficial to the affected communities and other stakeholders.

One of the first steps that could be done in order to have a good coordination in the emergency response is mapping the capacities of all stakeholders. This needs to be done in order to be able to identify and facilitate the process of involvement of each party at the time of emergency. In essence, this mapping noted:

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where
  5. Why
  6. How

From the mapping, then we can see the capacity of the different stakeholders so that the division of tasks for emergency responses can be coordinated.

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Response – Disaster / Emergency Response

Airlift to speed up assistance to the affected people

Airlift to speed up assistance to the affected people

Previously, we have seen that response is the provision of assistances and services during or immediately after a disaster with primary goals to save lives, reduce the impact of the diseases or health-related, providing health services and providing basic needs required by the affected people/communities.

We can use a reference from The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR, 2009):

The provision of emergency services and public assistance during or immediately after a disaster in order to save lives, reduce health impacts, ensure public safety and meet the basic subsistence needs of the people affected.

As above reference, we can see there are two stages of response, namely:

  1. Response given immediately after a disaster or as we know is the emergency response.  The main activities at this stage are save lives and evacuation, fulfillment of basic needs and health care delivery. Emergency response period is usually set by the government for a certain period of time based on the recommendation from the agency or a special team tasked to assess and consider the conditions and impacts that occurred shortly after the disaster.
  2. Responses given during the disaster, this stage we know as well as the transition period. At this stage the provision of basic needs and health services still on-going and began providing assistance to improve vital infrastructure in order to support socio-economic activities as soon as possible. However, activities at this stage are temporary. Sometimes this phase continues until the recovery period.

Preliminary information about disaster events can be obtained from various sources, from the public reports, local government, mass media, the internet or other reliable sources. This early information must include the required data, namely:

  1. What: type of disaster
  2. When: day, date, time
  3. Where: location
  4. Who: number of casualties and infrastructure damage
  5. Why: the cause of the disaster
  6. How: what efforts have been made

Based on the preliminary information, the government or other professional organizations typically directly send their assigned Rapid Response Team to immediately conduct a quickly  and accurately assessment as well as provide the necessary support services for emergency response. In general, the team will conduct an assessment by using references from the initial information received and other secondary data. The report of rapid assessment must contain the necessary data, namely:

  1. Describes the type of disaster.
  2. Describes the exact time when disaster occurred.
  3. Describes the exact location or disaster area.
  4. Describes number of casualties (death toll, severe injured, minor injured, sick, missing) and the number of refugees, destruction of buildings and vital infrastructure that are damaged.
  5. Make a brief analysis of the causes of the disaster.
  6. Make a brief analysis of the available resources in the closest area to the disaster site and urgent resources needs.

From the report of assessment from Rapid Response Team, then usually the government will determine the status or level of disaster and set the next steps that should be taken to respond.

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Lessons Learned from Flash Flood in Maluku Province – Indonesia

Way Ela dam, about two kilometers away from Negeri Lima village, Central Maluku, broke on Thursday, July 25, 2013. The broken dam caused ten-meter flood and swept away 470 houses, five schools, two praying rooms, one health care center, one village cooperative unit, one bridge, two clean water facilities and one telecommunication tower. As of today, it is reported that three persons missing, eight severely injured, 24 minor injured and 5,223 people were evacuated to various locations.

Maluku governor has declared 14 days for emergency response phase, started from July 25 – August 8, 2013. Main focus during this phase is the search of missing people and relief distribution of basic needs.

Way ela

Way Ela is a natural dam made in July 13, 2012 because of landslides that closed river stream in Negeri Lima village, Leyhitu sub-district, Central Maluku district, Maluku province. The size of the dam is 1,100 meters long, 300 meters wide, 215 meters high and 35 meters deep. Many argue that the thickness of the dam is good enough. However, the fact showed that the thickness is not a guarantee. Due to the heavy rain, the dam completely broke at around 12:25pm local time on Thursday, July 25, 2013 and five minutes later about 19.8M m3 of water swiped Negeri Lima village which located about 2.25 KM from the dam.

The survival of thousands of people from Negeri Lima village could not be separated from the government’s efforts in conducting evacuation simulation to prepare local communities at any time if this natural dam broke.

There are several lessons learned from this experience:

What worked well?

  1. Early warning system runs well. When the dam was in critical condition one day before on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, warning alerts was sounded and government instructed local communities to go to the evacuation centers that have been provided.
  2. The government through BNPB (National Disaster Management Office) and BPBDs (Provincial and District Disaster Management Offices) provided good facilitation and support to the affected people as soon as possible.
  3. The governor led the emergency response and provided full support to the affected people.
  4. Preparedness trainings for floods have been conducted, therefore, local communities aware when evacuation should be started.

Highlights of what to do next time:

  1. The government needs to review again whether the dam construction is in accordance with the needs. Extreme weather / climate change should be taken into consideration.
  2. The government should find a way to relocate local communities who live too close to the danger zones.
  3. Community awareness on disaster preparedness needs to be strengthened and should be the responsibility of all stakeholders includes community itself. Three persons missing suspected because they were running late to the evacuation centers.
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Earthquake Preparedness – Simple Tips

Earthquakes are one of the natural disasters that frequently occur. For us in Indonesia, earthquakes occurred almost daily in various places with different scales. About a year ago, almost every day I always received a short messenger service from BMKG informs about the earthquake that occurred in various locations in Indonesia.

In general, earthquake resulted by the release of energy generated by the pressure caused by the slab (the earth’s crust) that are moving. The longer the pressure will further enlarge so as to achieve the state where the pressure is no longer tolerated by the outskirts of the slab, that’s when the earthquake happened. Earthquakes can occur at any time anywhere and until today scientifically predictions cannot yet be made to a specific day or month, therefore, earthquake preparedness is a must for all of us.


We may have often received training and simulation about the things to do when an earthquake occurs. In this writing, I just try to give simple tips which may useful for us.


What should we prepare at home?

1. Check the condition of our home.

  • Glassware should be placed in the lower and closed.
  • Wardrobe and heavy items should be placed tightly to the wall.
  • Photographs frames, paintings, mirrors or the like should not be hung on the wall above the bed, chair, sofa or glassware.
  • Check whether the lamps have been firmly attached.
  • Check if there are damaged roofs, cracked walls or broken windows. If yes, fix it immediately.

2. Preparing emergency supplies.

  • Ensure to have adequate drinking water and food supplies (preferably canned food or biscuits or instant noodles).
  • Prepare flashlights, batteries, candles and matches if the power goes out.
  • Prepare the necessary medicines.
  • Prepare a list of contacts that are needed, such as hospital, police or other emergency numbers and family / relatives who do not live at the same home.
  • Prepare enough cash, ID card and securing the important papers or valuables goods.

3. Identify a safe place.

  • Under the tables or bed that are strong enough.

4. Improve our knowledge and all family members on how to react in the event of an earthquake. If necessary, do a simple simulation with the whole family.

5. Find out the nearest evacuation place.

6. Attend the meeting or evacuation briefing and first aid training if possible.


What should we do in our homes?

1. Do not panic and do not run away from home (remain indoors).
2. Get down and touch the floor, looking for shelter under a tables or bed that are strong enough and wait until the shaking stops.
3. If you are in bed, cover your head with a pillow. If at all possible get moving toward under the bed or go to the nearest safe side close to the wall in the building elbows.
4. Stay away from glass, mirrors, hanging items on walls or other items that easily fall.
5. Do not touch electrical switches or other sources because of the possibility of shorting.
6. Remain indoors/in the home until the shaking stops and it’s safe.


What should we do if we are outside the homes?

1. Stay away from buildings, trees, street lights, electricity and telephone poles, billboards and so on.
2. Try to find an open area and remain outside in a safe place until the shaking stops and it’s safe.
3. If you’re in the car or being on a motorcycle, immediately pulled over and stopped. Avoid stopping near or under trees, buildings, bridges, street lights, electricity and telephone poles, billboards and so on. Continue driving until the shaking stops and it is safe, avoid over the bridges or other obstacles that were damaged by the earthquake.
4. Do not use the elevator if we were in office buildings, shopping centers, theaters or other places that have an elevator.
5. If trapped in an elevator, press all buttons and get out when the elevator stops. If interphone available in the elevator, immediately contact the building manager.
6. If you are in the train, hold on to the pole so you will not fall if the train suddenly stopped and do not panic, follow the instructions and information by the railway officials.


What should we do after the earthquake?

1. Stay alert in case of second earthquake, sometimes the second quake more powerful from the first.
2. Monitor latest situation from television or radio, listen to the emergency response if any.
3. Use the phone for emergency calls.
4. Stay away from damaged or cracked area.
5. Stay away from the location that smells of hazardous liquid like gasoline, kerosene or other chemicals.
6. Check if there is a leaking gas, if there is a smell of gas immediately out of the house / building.
7. Help the injured victims, especially children, the elderly or the disabled. Give first aid correctly. Do not move seriously injured victims to avoid a more severe injury, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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