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Cablegate: Indonesia Earthquake Humanitarian Update #10: Food

VZCZCXRO3229
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #1753/01 2920857
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 190857Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3617
INFO RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 7999
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1099
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8853
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 001753

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, CA
STATE FOR USAID
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA CCHAN, ACONVERY, RTHAYER, AND RMT
USAID FOR ANE KROSEN
BANGKOK FOR ADWYER
NSC FOR CPRATT
USUN FOR DMERCADO
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
PACOM POLAD/J3/J5

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV CASC ECON EAID SENV ID PHUM AEMR ASEC CASC
MARR, PREL, PINR, AMGT, EAID, AQ, LA, RP, TN, VM, WS

SUBJECT: INDONESIA EARTHQUAKE HUMANITARIAN UPDATE #10: FOOD
SECURITY AND AGRICULTURE NEEDS NOT CRITICAL AT PRESENT BUT MAY
INCREASE

-------
Summary
-------

1. The USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART) has
assessed food security and agriculture conditions in
earthquake-affected Agam, Pariaman, and Padang Pariaman districts.
The earthquake resulted in the loss of many families' rice stocks
and damaged irritation infrastructure considerably in some areas.
However, the quake did not significantly disrupt the current
agricultural season. At present, charitable giving, emergency food
assistance, and market purchases are meeting families' immediate
needs for short-term food assistance. While food is not currently a
critical issue, without sufficient assistance through the next
harvest season, household-level food insecurity of affected
populations may significantly increase. The USAID/DART will
continue to monitor food security and agricultural conditions of
earthquake-affected populations. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- -
Food Security and Agriculture Needs Assessment
--------------------------------------------- -

2. Since arriving in Padang, the USAID/DART field officer has
assessed food security and agriculture in 13 villages in Agam,
Pariaman, and Padang Pariaman districts. Through meetings with
Government of Indonesia (GoI) representatives, interviews with
earthquake-affected families, and assessments of irrigation
infrastructure, the USAID/DART has obtained a clearer picture of
current food security and agriculture conditions. Most affected
families interviewed by the USAID/DART ranked obtaining food --
specifically rice -- as their first or second priority at present.

-- Food Stocks Lost --

3. The September 30 earthquake in West Sumatra did not interrupt
the primary rice planting or harvest seasons. Where fields remain
undamaged and where water irrigation systems are still operable, the
rice crop should be ready to harvest in three to four months.
Because the agricultural cycle has not been interrupted, long-term
food distributions are not needed.

4. The most recent rice harvest occurred in mid-August, just prior
to Ramadan. Families reported storing harvested rice in their
houses for consumption until the next harvest, expected in January
and February. Most families reported growing enough rice to sustain
the family until the next harvest without having to rely on market
purchase.

5. However, the recent earthquake damaged many homes and, in the
process, caused a significant number of families to lose their rice
stocks for the coming three months. The loss of household stocks
has forced many families to rely on market purchases to make up for
the shortfall of rice. Rice traders interviewed by the USAID/DART
field officer reported that the increase in demand across the
earthquake-affected region for rice purchase has led to an increase
in price. Market assessments indicate that, on average, the cost of
rice has increased by 30 percent since prior to the earthquake. The
increase in the price of rice combined with families' reliance on
market purchase creates the potential for increasing household-level
food insecurity by limiting families' access to food.

-- Damage to Infrastructure --

6. According to the USAID/DART field officer, the earthquake caused
considerable damage to irrigation canals in pockets of areas. The
damage was due to landslides that directly damaged irrigation
infrastructure or that blocked rivers, re-directing water away from
irrigation systems.

7. Irrigation systems need to be restored before agricultural

JAKARTA 00001753 002 OF 002


production of rice can continue without interruption. However, the
next rice-growing season relies on rainfall and is not dependent on
irrigation systems being intact for crops to grow. The USAID/DART
is making inquiries with partners to gauge interest in addressing
the irrigation canal issue. The USAID/DART will continue to monitor
the situation.

-- Addressing Needs through Social Capital --

8. The USAID/DART field officer has noted the high social capital
of the area, as many donations of food from unaffected communities
throughout Indonesia continue to be delivered to needy families.
One family remarked that they lacked food but were not worried
because food arrives every day from better-off communities. The
potential duration of these community-help efforts is not clear. In
some areas, these charitable distributions are meeting an immediate
need for food, thereby allowing families to spend money on other
items needed for recovery.

-- Addressing Needs through Emergency Food Assistance --

9. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and the GoI are coordinating
food distributions. Currently, WFP is distributing noodles and
biscuits, while the GoI is distributing cash and rice for one
month's requirement. The GoI program distributes $70 per
earthquake-affected family to cover food needs for one month, using
a five-member per household average. WFP has redirected noodles and
biscuits from the Aceh program and has appealed for funding through
the Humanitarian Response Plan to continue this program for three
months. (Comment: The USAID/DART has already observed upward
pressure on rice prices as families that do not normally purchase
rice begin to do so. In some places, food distributions will need
to continue until the next rice harvest occurs, especially for
poorer households. Whether the GoI program will continue past the
one-month ration, thereby raising additional household-level food
security concerns by sustaining upward pressure on rice prices, is
unclear. End comment.)

--------------------------------------
USAID/DART Activities to Monitor Needs
--------------------------------------

10. While food is not currently a critical issue, without
sufficient assistance through the next harvest season,
household-level food insecurity of affected populations may
significantly increase. Through late November, the USAID/DART will
maintain two field officers in Padang who will continue to monitor
this situation.


Hume#

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