Tsunami survivors in Sulawesi rebuilding three months on, but need remains

Media Releases, News article written on the 28 Dec 2018

Three months on from the devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake and tsunami which struck Sulawesi (28 December 2018), tens of thousands of people forced from their homes and facing extreme poverty since the disaster had benefited from vital aid, but many communities remained in need, Oxfam said today.

More than 2000 people died, 68,000 homes were destroyed and 211,000 people were displaced as a consequence of the rapid-onset tsunami waves and liquefaction which occurred on the Indonesian island on 28 September.

Oxfam’s Humanitarian Manager in Indonesia, Ancilla Bere, said the government-led response, which continued to cover humanitarian needs in some of the worst-affected areas in Palu, Sigi and Donggala, had been crucial to the response transitioning into a recovery and reconstruction phase.

“Oxfam, through its partner organisations and relief efforts, has now reached more than 100,000 people with aid and services. This has included the distribution of more than 20,000 hygiene kits, the construction of dozens of toilets, water pipelines and water distribution points, as well as income generating activities as part of emergency food security and livelihoods support.

“While helping this many people is a great milestone in terms of our humanitarian work so far, what is far more significant in real terms is the impact this is having on people rebuilding their lives.

“For example, in Palu, the hard work of everyone is paying off, especially when I go into villages and meet with women and children who express their satisfaction and say Oxfam has been helping them a lot. In that moment I feel like our contribution has made a real difference.”

Ms Bere said Oxfam’s response had been helped by enhanced capabilities to deliver aid where it was needed most and the use of the latest communication technology to monitor and distribute aid.

“Our humanitarian team has benefitted from software that allows us to track what aid is going where, while aid recipients have benefitted from better data collection and ICT processes, which means people don’t have to queue and can pick up Oxfam kits from distribution centres when they want,” she said.

Ms Bere said income generating programs were helping more than a thousand people in Sulawesi better support their family’s needs, often by helping fellow villagers clean up in the wake of devastation.

Despite progress, relief efforts had been complicated by challenges including flooding from the rainy season in certain areas, while some of the two million people estimated to be affected by the disaster still needed temporary shelter and relocation plans, Ms Bere said.

“In late November, floods in earthquake-damaged villages in Bangga, Sigi, forced hundreds of earthquake and tsunami survivors to evacuate their homes. Fortunately Oxfam’s partners, being the first to respond, were able to quickly distribute tarps, buckets, clothing and safe drinking water,” she said.

“Long-term, continued support from the international community, which has given so generously since the disaster occurred, will ensure the Sulawesi people who still need ongoing help can get back on their feet.”

To donate, visit: https://www.oxfam.org.au/2010/04/my-life-in-24-hours/donate/indonesia-tsunami/

For interviews or more information, please contact Renee Thompson on 0418 873 782 or reneet@oxfam.org.au