Volunteerism and Disaster Relief in Indonesia: Case Studies from Makassar and Luwu Timur
Disaster victims are able to be self-reliant according to many disaster management scholars. However, when the destruction effect disrupts the functioning of the affected community and surpasses their ability to cope, support from the outside can be crucial. One source of support is provided by volunteers, who can often be critical during and after a disaster. Volunteers are often from local surrounding communities, are bystanders, or are even victims helping other victims. Volunteers offer a flexible type of response, sometimes with less attention to health and safety, but they can be very useful during the management of disasters. Such positive input has been highlighted in many other countries. However, studies exploring the role of volunteer groups involved in disaster management in Indonesia are limited. There is little information about individuals’ motives for joining voluntary emergency response groups (VERGs), or the type of actions VERGs perform in a disaster. This research is a first step towards filling this knowledge gap by investigating the contributions of VERGs in providing support during disasters in Indonesia. A qualitative descriptive methodology is used to collect and collate data obtained from semi-structured interviews. Findings indicate that VERGs play a key role during the immediate disaster response phase. Reasons for volunteering relate mainly to altruistic behaviours, social capital and religious beliefs. Volunteer groups play significant roles, especially during local, small-scale disasters, and they fill the need for timely support. Roles are flexible but are mainly related to search and rescue, medical assistance and logistics. Despite their significant roles in disaster response efforts, effective collaboration between VERGs and official government disaster management agencies has yet to be achieved. Thus, more integration in the disaster management framework is needed.