By Tomilola Ajayi
Six months ago, on 28th September 2018, Central Sulawesi province in Indonesia was rocked by devastating earthquakes and a tsunami.
More than 2,000 people died and thousands were made homeless by tremors of up to 7.5-magnitude, which triggered waves as high as three metres. Some 1.5 million people were affected, with widespread damage caused by landslides and liquefaction (where soil behaves like a liquid). In the immediate aftermath, Christian Aid and our local partners mobilised emergency teams to provide humanitarian assistance.
Then, nearly three months later, we also began helping communities left in turmoil by the Sunda Strait tsunami, which struck on 22nd December.
So far we have helped approximately 15,000 survivors in Central Sulawesi alone, through Yakkum Emergency Unit (YEU) and Church World Service (CWS). This is thanks to generous donations from supporters and money raised by the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal.
Here are six ways we’ve helped survivors begin to rebuild their lives.
1. Solar panels
The earthquake ruined not just homes, but also infrastructure and energy sources.
Through our partner YEU, we have distributed more than 500 solar panels. This has given families - including those living in camps - a renewable, sustainable source of energy.
2. A safe place: shelter kits
Though YEU and CWS, we have distributed more than 1,200 emergency shelter kits in Palu and Sigi districts, including shelters handed out in preparation for the monsoon season.
However, of nearly 400 people we spoke to who had lost their homes, around 30% are still living in tarpaulin structures or tents.
3. Supplying safe, clean water
Safe drinking water is critical to people’s wellbeing and survival.
Through CWS, we’re supplying safe water, giving around 6,750 people access to clean water. More than 3,500 litres is being delivered each day. We have also refurbished existing water supply systems, for a more sustainable solution.
CWS is also building 100 standard toilets, and YEU is building 20 inclusive toilets (both in camps and at household level), for those who are pregnant, living with disabilities or elderly.
4. Mobile health clinics
When disaster strikes, medical support is one of the first priorities.
YEU has been running mobile health clinics, both for people injured in the disasters and those with pre-existing health conditions. So far, more than 1,500 patients have received treatment.
5. Counselling and protection
Disasters like these, leave not just physical, but also emotional scars.
That’s why we’re offering psychosocial counselling support for survivors. For instance, in Banten, our partner KUN is running support groups for children affected by the Sunda Strait tsunami.
To help keep vulnerable people safe from harm, we’ve trained communities on how to safeguard against sexual exploitation and abuse, and identify cases for referrals.
We’re also running awareness sessions for women and young girls. As our Regional Emergency Manager Yeeshu Shukla says: "Understanding and addressing sexual and reproductive health issues in a humanitarian context is an important aspect that can be overlooked in emergencies.”
6. Hygiene and environmental health training
Infectious diseases and humanitarian crises frequently go hand-in-hand.
YEU has handed out nearly 3,000 hygiene kits to families, and is running hygiene awareness campaigns for survivors.
Through YEU, we’re also teaching people about topics like waste management, handwashing, food hygiene, and the treatment, handling and storage of drinking water.
In the months ahead, we’ll support families who haven’t been able to return home – either due to lack of shelter, water or a means to earn a living. We’ll focus on providing livelihoods assistance for 70 families, permanent and transitional shelters, and cash for households.
Yeeshu Shukla says: “Affected communities have expressed the need for livelihoods/income-generation support…some who are fishermen are no longer able to continue – either due to loss of assets or as a result of trauma.”
As part of our inclusive response, we’ll prioritise vulnerable groups at risk of being overlooked. This includes addressing often-neglected women’s health issues; supporting people living with disabilities through inclusive shelters; and offering specialised care to people living with HIV.
Find out more:
Visit our Indonesia Tsunami Appeal