The politics of the Mount Merapi eruption in Central Java, Indonesia
Introduction This chapter analyses the politics of the 2010 Mount Merapi eruption by examining the responses of national and regional governments and the resilience of local civilians. Mount Merapi, standing 2,950 m above sea level, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It is located in the Special Province of Yogyakarta in Central Java, Indonesia, and it is shared by four districts: Sleman on the southern side, Magelang on the western side, Boyolali on the northern side and Klaten on the eastern side. There are rivers flowing through these districts. Most people who live in the areas surrounding Mount Merapi work in the agricultural sector while some people hold jobs in local government institutions, schools and universities, small business and local tourism. The local people depend on Mount Merapi, which is an integral part of their everyday life and influences their social fabric. The 2010 Mount Merapi eruption occurred in the context of successive crises and natural disasters in Indonesia in recent times.2 These events have created a sense of insecurity and uncertainty among the Indonesian people, who have become uncomfortably aware of the threat of natural disasters. The Indonesian case does not stand on its own. What does the Mount Merapi eruption contribute to our understanding about natural disasters and human security? How did the Indonesian Government and the local people respond to the Mount Merapi eruption? What are the implications of the eruption for the local people? What lessons can be learned and what needs to be done? In order to answer these questions, I will briefly discuss the existing literature on natural disasters and on Mount Merapi and its relevance to Indonesia. I will then discuss the causes and impact of the Mount Merapi eruption in 2010 and identify several important issues that arose – in particular, the resilience of the local people in dealing with the eruption and the disaster-mitigation efforts in the post-eruption period. Finally, I will draw some lessons that can be learned from the disaster and the relief efforts.