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International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction: Invest to Prevent

Jakarta, 12 October 2005 - On the occasion of the International Day for Disaster
Reduction and to mark the International Year of Microcredit, today United Nations
handed over to the Coordinating Ministry for People's Welfare a package of
Disaster Reduction Library including a newly launched summary publication by
the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). The book, entitled
"Invest to Prevent Disaster" is about global debate by experts on how micro-
finance can reduce the impact of natural disasters on vulnerable communities.

Natural, environmental and technological disasters regularly occur throughout the
world. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that hit Indonesia, more recently
Hurricane Katrina in the United States, and the earthquake in Pakistan
demonstrated that the poor usually suffer most from disasters as they often live
and work in highly vulnerable locations. Microcredit is a useful tool for poverty
reduction, but its potential to reduce the impact of disasters needs to be further

"We cannot stop natural calamities, but we can and must better equip individuals
and communities to withstand them. Those most vulnerable to nature's wrath are
usually the poorest, which means that when we reduce poverty, we also reduce
vulnerability," said Alwi Shihab, Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare in his
opening remarks. Apart from commemorating the disaster risk reduction day,
today's event also consisted of launching of the National Strategy for Poverty
Reduction as well as signing of the National Poverty and Fuel Crisis Mitigation
Movement Declaration.

"In this International Year of Microcredit, we should recognize that micro-finance
can do much to help empower those with little or no access to traditional financial
institutions, thereby reducing disaster risk and improving disaster management.
By diversifying the income of high-risk populations and promoting disaster
insurance, micro-finance can strengthen coping mechanisms before disasters,
while hastening recovery afterwards," said Sri Mulyani Indrawati, State Minister
for National Development Planning/Chairperson of National Development Planning
Agency after the opening ceremony.

Also present during the event Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Social Affairs,
Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Public Works, and Governor of Jakarta. The
event highlights the important relationship between the prevention of natural
disasters, the reduction of poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium
Development Goals in Indonesia.

Bo Asplund, Resident Coordinator for United Nations System in Indonesia, in
discussing steps to promote culture of disaster risk reduction - from responding
to disasters to taking preventive measures - provided example of Simeulue
community in Aceh. Of the 83,000 persons living in Simeulue, only 7 lost their
lives. For that success the community has been awarded the UN Sasakawa
Certificate of Merit 2005. "Even if natural hazards will continue to be part of our
world, human decisions and actions can play a critical role in preventing them
from becoming future disasters," said Bo Asplund who is also the UN
Humanitarian Coordinator.

United Nations Country Team in Indonesia responded full out to the humanitarian
emergency following the earthquake and tsunami in Aceh and North Sumatra. UN
is now supporting the reconstruction process. UNDP, for example, in partnership
with the Government of Indonesia, help to develop Master Plan for Disaster Risk
Reduction. UNESCO, another example, helps to coordinate the development of
Indian Ocean Tsunami Early warning System. OCHA has also sponsored national
and regional tsunami lessons learnt workshops.
Roundtables and discussions will be held worldwide around the 12th of October to
explore how micro-finance can practically alleviate the suffering of the most
vulnerable populations. Financial experts, disaster managers and UN specialists
will gather on 14-15 October in New Delhi, India, to discuss the impact and the
potential use for recovery of micro-finance in countries affected by the tsunami
last December.


For further information, please contact:
Elis Nurhayati at 3141308 Ext. 183 or

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