Indonesia tsunami response: “People have lost everything”

Ikhwan, holding his son, is worried about what the future holds for his young family

Ikhwan (pictured above) and his family have been living in a tent ever since their house was destroyed by the earthquake. Ikhwan says:

I don’t know when we’ll be able to live in a house again. Our lives have been destroyed. All that I can think about right now is to protect my family.

As CARE begins distributing hygiene kits through our partner organisation PKPU to people in remote and hard to reach communities around Palu, Donggala and Sigi, Wahyu Widayanto, CARE Indonesia’s Emergency Response Coordinator on the ground in Palu, said:

People have lost everything, including their homes and they are dealing with the trauma of their experience. We are also starting to see instances of disease outbreak with fever and diarrhea reported. On top of this people are still living with the daily fear of continuing aftershocks and small quakes.

A woman and her children in a tsunami-damaged street
Dian sits with her children on sofas in front of her house, with a ship stranded by the tsunami in the background

Dian (pictured above) told us:

Our family have been sleeping in a pick-up truck located around 300 metres from my house for about two weeks now – but I’m happy, because all my children are alive and well.

Woman in Indonesia drying clothes on a beach
Amimei drying her family's clothes at a beach in Donggala

Amimei (pictured above) says:

My family just built a tent on the location where our house used to be, by the beach. I’m still afraid of [another] earthquake and tsunami, but we just wanted to go back to our land.

People build temporary shelters on a beach
Villagers building huts at a beach in Donggala
People cooking beside tents at an emergency settlement
Two women cook near their tents at a temporary settlement near Palu
Woman standing in front of tents after Indonesia earthquake
Warni and her family have been living in a tent since the earthquake destroyed their home
A woman comforts her new-born baby inside a tent
Wiya comforts her newborn baby (born after the earthquake and tsunami, and two days before this photo was taken) in a tent where her family have been living since the earthquake

Our needs assessment showed that over 80% of people affected by the earthquake and tsunami are staying outside their homes, either because they have been damaged, or for fear of further quakes.

Around 30% do not have access to clean, safe drinking water, with many drinking out of communal wells or rivers. CARE is providing buckets and water purification tablets as well as hygiene items such as soap and laundry detergent.

People carrying boxes with emergency supplies
Staff from CARE’s partner organisation PKPU organise boxes containing hygiene kits at a warehouse in Palu
Lorry unloading emergency supplies
A lorry being loaded for distribution; note the flooding in the foreground
Distribution of hygiene kits inside plastic buckets
Staff from CARE’s partner organisation PKPU preparing to distribute hygiene kits in Loli Tasiburi, Donggala

CARE’s hygiene kits also include items specifically targeted at women and girls, such as sanitary napkins. CARE Indonesia’s Wahyu Widayanto said:

Women in particular are telling me their big worries are things like milk for their babies, and that they are running out of sanitary products, which is a real worry considering they live in communal shelters, or even out in the open. They are also very worried about being able to go back to their houses and rebuilding after all this destruction.

Woman standing between tents in emergency settlement
Nuraini at a temporary tent settlement in Loli Saluran village, Donggala

Nuraini (pictured above) says:

We’re waiting for the government or aid organisation to help rebuild our house, because at the moment, most of us lost almost everything. We will stay in temporary shelter while waiting and at the same time, maybe we can resolve the trauma, especially for the children.

Rebuilding and recovery is going to be a long process, says Wahyu Widayanto, CARE Indonesia’s Emergency Response Coordinator:

Much of people’s land has been destroyed through mud ‘liquefaction’. This has an impact on both sources of food and potential incomes. Without a harvest, the effects are likely to be long-lasting. Going forward, we will also be looking at cash assistance programmes to help people get back on their feet.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.