Sulawesi tsunami: Three months later, needs of survivors remain huge

Jan 04, 2019

Three months after the island of Sulawesi was rocked by a huge earthquake and tsunami, many people remain without adequate shelter and access to clean water, says aid agency CARE.

Women and girls are exposed to risk due to their increased workload and caring responsibilities and are facing increased threats of domestic violence, sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation.

Despite government and aid agencies best efforts to reach all those affected, there remain many gaps and continued support is needed to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. Around 2,100 lives were lost and nearly 70,000 homes severely damaged by the tsunami and earthquake. Over 130,000 people are still living in temporary shelters and thousands have had their livelihoods and source of income wiped out.

“Now that people know their loved ones are safe from immediate danger they are worried about how they will continue to keep them safe in the future, without homes or incomes,” said Helen Vanwel, country director of CARE in Indonesia.

In the last three months CARE has delivered life-saving aid, through local partners, to nearly 20,000 people including shelter, kitchen, and hygiene kits which consist of tarpaulins, mattress, sanitary napkins for women and girls, cooking ware, and hygiene kits.

As the people of Sulawesi adapt to the “new normal” of post-tsunami life, their needs are changing.

“Mothers have told us how the loss of livelihoods means money is tight, leading to increased tensions at home and many women heads of households have also lost all their assets and savings and are unable to rebuild their homes,” added Vanwel.

According Fira, a local volunteer in one of the temporary encampments: “Women and girls live here without privacy. They live in a small tent which often they share with other family members. From what we see here, it seems that older married women are prone to domestic violence, while the young girls are facing the threat of sexual harassment and trafficking.”

CARE is continuing to providing immediate aid relief to survivors of the disaster and will also begin with longer term assistance to help people rebuild their lives.

“Through cash assistance, CARE will help provide immediate access to employment to replace the lost-income as a result of the tsunami destruction and help people provide for their families for the next six months and beyond,” says Vanwel.

CARE aims to raise USD $10 million for recovery and rehabilitation programs on the island over the next four years.

Local capacity to deal with natural disasters and early warning systems also need to be developed, to help people adapt and recover in the face of natural disaster. In other parts of Indonesia disaster-prone areas, CARE train local communities on preparedness should disaster strike and how to mitigate disaster risks. It leads the Partners for Resilience (PfR), an alliance of five organizations working to strengthen community resilience in facing natural as well as climate-change related disasters.

“The Government of Indonesia has done much to help improve disaster preparedness in the last few years and CARE will continue to support it at both local and national level with its development agenda and disaster work. The road to recovery is a long one, and we are only at the start of it,” notes Vanwel.

-30-

To arrange interviews, contact:
Darcy Knoll
Communications Specialist | CARE Canada
darcy.knoll@care.ca | 613-228-5641