Muhammadiyah and disaster response: Innovation and change in humanitarian assistance
In the past 50 years, nine out of ten people affected by disasters were in Asia. Southeast Asia, in particular, has been the site of some of the worst natural disasters in the world over the past 10 years. At the same time, many Southeast Asian nations are now “middle-income countries” and for a variety of political reasons, their governments increasingly decline to request humanitarian aid through traditional channels coordinated by UN agencies. This has opened the door for a more active role to be played by domestic and international NGOs (INGOs). Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organizations, is one of the country’s largest and oldest social welfare organizations—running thousands of schools, clinics, hospitals, and universities. Since the 2004 tsunami, it has also become one of the country’s most active private disaster relief agencies, responding to the Yogyakarta earthquake (2006), Sumatra earthquake (2009) and Mt Merapi eruption (2010). Muhammadiyah’s leading role in the area of disaster and humanitarian assistance in Indonesia has furthermore brought it into international political discourses on humanitarian aid.