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Locally Led Response to the Java Earthquake

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 struck West Java, Indonesia on the 21st November 2022. A total of 321 people died and 73,874 people became displaced. A total of 62,628 houses were recorded as damaged, 27,434 severely [Source here]. Although this is not an official Integral Disaster Response, Integral Members are involved through JAKOMKRIS – a local network made up of Indonesian churches and Christian faith-based organisations. 

Photo: © Denny Subrata, Jakomkris 2022

We hear now from Effendy Aritonang and Matthijs van Pijkeren about the JAKOMKRIS network and their vision for locally based and resourced Christian disaster response. Effendy is the Indonesia Country Director for Food for the Hungry and Secretary of the Executive Team of JAKOMKRIS, and Matthijs is the Asia Team Leader and Faith and Development Advisor at Tearfund Netherlands.

Please tell us a bit about the JAKOMKRIS network?

Matthijs: Since 2016 Tearfund Netherlands has invested in the formation of JAKOMKRIS. We still are involved, providing them with a small annual grant supporting them to be able to invest in contextualised Disaster Risk Reduction training and to be able to coordinate during disasters. 

In the Sulawesi response after the tsunami of 2018, JAKOMKRIS provided a coordinating and training role. In other smaller disasters, the network was able to connect Indonesian funding from churches and individuals with the disaster response by its members. In other words, no funding request for these smaller disasters came to Tearfund Netherlands, because the network was able to respond with local/national resources. Currently, the network is the official Christian representation with the Indonesian department of disaster preparation and response. 

Although Tearfund Netherlands was involved in the formation of JAKOMKRIS, historically there was and still is contact between JAKOMKRIS and other Tearfund and Integral Members. But wider involvement and participation from others is still very welcome!

We continue the link with JAKOMKRIS and Integral by sharing updates with Integral Members during disasters like the Java earthquake in 2022 and the major Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami in 2018.

In your view, why is a network like JAKOMKRIS important?  

Matthijs: I see the importance of such national networks as similar to international networks like Integral Alliance itself. JAKOMKRIS could be seen as a national version of Integral, sharing inspiration and information among other like-minded organisations, as well as having a role in coordinating during disasters, and representation to others.

JAKOMKRIS is also set up as a capacity sharing network. Churches and Christian NGOs see it as a platform where they exchange and share experience, knowledge and also help each other. There is a willingness to speak one another’s language and to respect one another’s role.

Effendy: We can view the importance of JAKOMKRIS from a few different perspectives:

1. In a disaster it is difficult to rely on the assistance from outside organisations because of the challenge of geography, combined with the fact that Indonesia is highly prone to various kinds of natural disasters. Churches can play the role as the ‘first aid team’ in an emergency or until other or larger assistance arrives.
2. From the context of ‘Christian witness’ it helps churches to demonstrate God’s love and care for the people. 
3. Perhaps most importantly, it provides the opportunity for churches to become instruments for community resilience. 

Tell us how you worked together in the Java earthquake response

Effendy: In the Java earthquake response, churches and some JAKOMKRIS members worked with strong synergy. For instance, Food for the Hungry was conducting psychosocial support to preschool and grade 1-6 students, and there was a need for clean water. Another organisation (MDS) came to build a water well and filter. In other cases where MDS was working on the water project and found there was a need for people living with disabilities, another organisation (YEU) came to support. Working together like this increases the impact of our responses and subsequently is a good testimony to the people we serve.

What is your hope for the future regarding this way of working locally? What do you consider to be the end goal?

Effendy: Our vision is to see churches become a pillar for community resilience. To some extent, this is a small contribution toward the localisation agenda. 

Matthijs: What I find really encouraging is that in this disaster but also other small and medium scale disasters, the network has been able to respond by linking its members with Indonesian churches. So Indonesian churches support the response in their own country. In some cases we weren’t involved or informed anymore, and that is great!

I think among Christians and churches it will still be possible to share stories, support and give – certainly when the disaster is on a big scale. But could it be the end goal that churches, NGOs, companies, governments all over the world are able to respond to and prepare for small and medium scale disasters on their own, without outside funding? With the Asian economy still growing, and the Asian Church growing likewise, that is achievable.

What do you find inspiring about Integral?

Effendy: In the event of a disaster, I have seen how Integral Members are responsive to the need for local intervention. The openness to communicate among Members and share resources for a cause has been encouraging to see.

It would be interesting to see if there is a workable plan for Integral to really come alongside local networks like JAKOMKRIS and develop a model of partnership.

To read a recent article about JAKOMKRIS click here