Disaster Preparedness Training Saved Lives in Indonesia

United Nations-backed disaster preparedness training reportedly prepared local communities in minimizing casualties following the 6.3 magnitude earthquake last month on Indonesia’s Sumatra island. The government has revised the death toll downwards from 73 to 52 people.

The UN Technical Working Group, in conjunction with the National Coordinating Board for the Management of Disaster (BAKORNAS PB), carried out contingency planning activities in the impacted area last year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement, citing local media as reporting that this helped local communities in reacting to the disaster.

The first UN inter-agency assessment team, comprising staff from OCHA, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN World Food Programme (WFP), UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), arrived in the affected areas on Sumatra island, which was devastated by an earthquake and ensuing tsunami in December 2004.

Indonesia, through various government ministries and regional health offices, spearheaded the emergency response effort, with help from several UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and other governments.

In conjunction with the Ministry of Health, WHO kept a close watch on the public health situation, with emergency trauma kits and health professions readily available. UNICEF distributed school tents, hygiene kits, cooking sets, water purification tablets and jerry cans.

More than 200 people have been reported injured, and more than 3,600 homes and 20 schools were damaged.

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