A woman receives a USAID/OFDA-provided kitchen kit from Mercy Corps after flooding affected Ambon city, Indonesia, in 2012.
A woman receives a USAID/OFDA-provided kitchen kit from Mercy Corps after flooding affected Ambon city, Indonesia, in 2012.
Mercy Corps

Key Developments

On February 1, 2014, the Mt. Sinabung volcano in Indonesia’s North Sumatra Province erupted, producing pyroclastic flows—fast-moving currents of hot gas and rock—that traveled approximately 4.5 kilometers (km) from the volcano’s summit. The volcano has remained active since eruptions began in September 2013. By February 5, the eruptions had displaced approximately 31,400 people and killed 16 others, while 14 people had died as a result of health conditions exacerbated by the eruptions and displacement, according to the Government of Indonesia (GoI). The GoI led response efforts, facilitating the evacuation of communities within 5 km of the volcano and providing food, water, health services, and emergency relief commodities to displaced populations. The GoI Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) continued to monitor volcanic activity at Mt. Sinabung with equipment provided by the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP), an initiative supported by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) and implemented by the U.S. Geological Survey.

On February 5, U.S. Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., declared a disaster due to humanitarian needs resulting from the Mt. Sinabung eruptions. In response, USAID/OFDA provided $100,000 through USAID/Indonesia to the International Organization for Migration for the procurement and distribution of emergency relief commodities for displaced communities.


Indonesia is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, regularly experiencing earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and drought, as well as frequent flooding. Recent major disasters include the eruption of Mt. Merapi in 2010, which killed 386 people and displaced more than 300,000 others, and the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004, which resulted in widespread destruction and more than 130,000 deaths in Indonesia. When disaster strikes, USAID/OFDA works with non-governmental organization partners to meet humanitarian needs and complement government relief efforts. USAID/OFDA also supports a number of initiatives in Indonesia to improve the capacity of government officials, non-governmental organizations, and local communities to prepare for and respond to disasters.

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Last updated: February 11, 2014

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