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Updates: Indonesia Tsunami Emergency

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Follow our updates on the Indonesia Tsunami Emergency

28 SEP 2019

The road to recovery

In the year since the double disaster rocked Sulawesi, we have been working to help survivors pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives.

Oxfam has worked in close partnership with the Humanitarian Knowledge Hub, or JMK, a consortium of 23 Indonesian organisations, to ensure that local and national NGOs played central roles in the response.

Together we have reached more than 200,000 people with assistance; we distributed hygiene kits widely, and worked with hard-hit communities for more complex interventions, like installing and repairing water systems and distributing cash.

We thank you for your generous support providing life-saving aid in our neighbours’ moment of need. It is truly incredible what we can achieve when we work together.

Watch our video about the road to recovery, one year on:

7 JAN 2019

The people of Sulawesi start to rebuild

Oxfam’s Humanitarian Manager in Indonesia, Ancilla Bere, says that our humanitarian efforts in Sulawesi has helped local communities rebuild and start to get back on their feet.

“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.”

7 JAN 2019

3 months on

Three months on from the devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake and tsunami which struck Sulawesi (28 December 2018), Oxfam has reached more than 100,000 people with lifesaving aid.

✔️ 20,000+ hygiene kits
✔️ Millions of litres of clean water
✔️ Vital income and employment opportunities to over 1,000 people — to help communities rebuild their lives

None of this possible without your support. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for helping to save lives in Sulawesi.

27 OCT

Stories from the ground: Agustin

Because of your generous support, we have been on the ground in Sulawesi providing people in need with emergency clean water and essential supplies, like hygiene kits. Your donation has helped people like Agustin. Because of you, we could provide her with emergency shelter and a hygiene kit.

Watch our video about Agustin’s story:

26 OCT

Indonesia tsunami: one month on

As the one-month anniversary of the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami approaches (Sunday 28 October), we are warning of a heightened risk of disease and landslides due to the monsoon season.

Oxfam’s Humanitarian Manager in Indonesia, Ancilla Bere, said Oxfam – through its partner agencies – was among those still at the front line of the Indonesian Government-led response.

“Since the beginning, our partners have been working with Oxfam’s Indonesian staff on preparations to get clean water and basic supplies such as hygiene kits and shelter to the thousands of people who urgently need it,” Ms Bere said.

“Oxfam and our partners have so far reached well over 15,000 people with aid, including distribution of 5000 hygiene kits, construction of a number of latrines, distribution of clean water and purification of water, and the delivery of food, temporary shelter and clothing.”

“One month on, far from the crisis abating, much more work needs to be done to meet the basic needs of people, with some areas yet to be reached because of impassable roads.”

“We’re concerned not only about ongoing access issues but disease outbreaks such as diarrhoea, as the region is expected to receive heavy rainfall in the monsoon season, and thousands of people are still living in makeshift shelters. Heavy rain also has the potential to cause landslides in remote areas in Donggala, where Oxfam’s partners are also distributing aid.”

19 OCT

Promoting healthy hygiene practices

We’re working with local partners in Indonesia to run demonstrations on good hygiene in the aftermath of September’s powerful earthquake and tsunami.

Children in Palu participated in these workshops and learnt about reducing illness through proper hand washing and other healthy hygiene practices.

Children in Palu, Indonesia participate in hand washing demonstrations in the aftermath of September's earthquake and tsunami
Photo: Rosa Panggabean/OxfamAUS
15 OCT

Status Update: The situation in Indonesia

Oxfam Australia Humanitarian Manager Meg Quartermaine shares an update on how the emergency response is progressing in Indonesia two-weeks on from the devastating earthquake and tsunami.


With the recent delivery of urgent supplies such as water treatment units, Oxfam are working with local partners to distribute clean water and hygiene kits to affected communities.

We couldn’t have done this without the generous support of all the Australians who have donated.

Thank you for helping us provide life-saving aid in Indonesia.

11 OCT

Hygiene kits now arriving in Palu

Thanks to your generosity, essential hygiene kits are now arriving in Palu, Indonesia. We are working with local partners to distribute these kits to families, like Afrianti and her son (pictured).

Afrianti and her son receiving hygiene kit in Palu, Indonesia after the recent earthquake and tsunami
Photo: Hariandi Hafid/OxfamAUS

Our hygiene kits contain:
– Soap and detergent
– Sanitary pads
– Nappies
– Insect repellant
– Toothbrushes and toothpaste

An example of what’s inside one of our hygiene kits. Photo credit: Irwan Firdaus/Oxfam

In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami disaster, clean water and sanitation is a critical problem. This is because water pipes have been destroyed and there is a severe shortage of clean water and toilets to prevent the spread of disease.

Our work in Sulawesi is just beginning. Thousands of tsunami survivors still don’t have access to clean water and sanitation.

We aim to provide half a million people with clean water and other essential aid, like hygiene kits.

11 OCT

Australian Government to support Indonesia following earthquake and tsunami

The Australian Government will support survivors of the earthquake and tsunami with the announcement of $2 million of funding through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership.

Read more

10 OCT

Thanks to you, emergency clean water has arrived

Oxfam teams are on the ground in Sulawesi, providing emergency clean water to families in need. We need to reach 500,000 people with urgent aid — so our work is just beginning. Thank you for your generous support. None of this is possible without you.



Tsunami survivors face long queues for clean water

The emergency system for distributing clean water in Palu is under strain to meet demand, as thousands of people spend an eleventh night sleeping outdoors.

Oxfam water engineer Bagus Setyawan said that with the temperature often reaching 35C during the day, people were desperate for water.

“Long queues of people appear next to the water truck in the crumbling city of Palu,” Mr Setyawan said. “They may have to queue several times a day as they do not have suitable containers in which to store water.”

Water pipes were damaged in the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck on 28 September, and the city has become dependent on a fleet of water trucks that are under huge strain to meet demand.

Thanks to your generous support, we are bringing in water treatment equipment that can produce 20 litres of clean water per minute from a bore hole – enough for around 500 people per day. More equipment is due to arrive in the coming days, which will increase capacity by six times.

We will also be distributing 1,000 hygiene kits consisting of a safe container for transporting water, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and sanitary towels.

Read more


Stories from the ground: Ronald

Portrait of Ronald (32) in front of his father's car repair shop in Palu. Ronald's father was killed when he a was swallowed by a sinkhole after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia on Sept. 28th causing a tsunami.
Photo: Andri Tambunan/Oxfam

Ronald, 32, lives in Balaroa — a small rural village on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Last week, Ronald’s father disappeared into a sinkhole — he was one of the many people killed after the earthquake hit the island, triggering a devastating tsunami.

Heroically, Ronald was able to save six other family members, including his mother, sisters, brother and nephews.

Now, he faces the devastating reality of rebuilding his family’s life. You can help by making a donation to supply families like Ronald’s with urgent, lifesaving aid.


ABC: Aid finally trickling in to Palu as logistical hurdles ease

Aid is now reaching devastated parts of Sulawesi, one week since the earthquake and tsunami struck the Indonesian island. Oxfam’s Irwan Fidaus speaks to ABC News about the relief efforts that your donations make possible.

Listen to the interview


Oxfam’s first supply shipment dispatched for Palu

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam, was in Makassar, Indonesia, this afternoon where our first shipment of supplies — 1,000 hygiene kits — was dispatched for Palu. 



Stories from the ground: Abdul

Credit: Andri Tambunan/OxfamAUS

Abdul Azis lost his two children when his whole village was swallowed by the liquification effects triggered by the earthquake.

“The land around my home was cracking and then my house was suddenly wiped out and gone and I knew my two children were in there,” he recalls.

Abdul said his daughter, aged 13, and his 2-year-old son, were plunged into the earth together with their home. “It happened so fast … In only seconds my house collapsed and the earth under my home fell away.” He says his wife did not want to admit the reality that their much-loved children were gone. “She kept looking around for our children even though I told her clearly that our children have gone,” he said.


Stories from the ground: Iren

28-year-old Iren takes care of her 7-month-old baby. Iren, a mother of two, has spent six nights in this tent at an IDP compound. Iren's house collapsed during the earthquake in Indonesia. Donate today.
Credit: Irwan Firdaus/Oxfam

Many thousands of families have been displaced by this emergency — families like Iren and her children. Iren’s house collapsed when the 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck. She has spent the past six nights in an emergency shelter. She is pictured here caring for her 7-month-old baby.


Urgent need for clean water in tsunami-hit Sulawesi

Clean water is in short supply on Sulawesi, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Here’s what Oxfam’s Humanitarian Manager in Indonesia, Ancilla Bere, says:

“Oxfam is working to deliver water purification units as soon as possible and scaling up our response to reach 500,000 people with clean water and essential aid supplies such as hygiene kits, water kits and shelter packs.

“In many areas of Palu and surrounding towns, there is no running water and few working toilets – and sanitation is a serious concern.”

“The difficulty of getting equipment and supplies into Palu, because of damage to roads, bridges and the airport, is still hampering response efforts.”

Read more


Today’s key updates

The scale of this disaster is immense. Sadly, more than 1,400 people have lost their lives — and there are fears the death toll will continue to rise. As many as 300,000 people are homeless, after last week’s earthquake and tsunami tore apart villages and homes on Sulawesi island.

Water is a critical issue, as pipes and supply networks were damaged in the earthquake. Many affected communities do not have clean, running water.

Oxfam is working to deliver emergency water supply as soon as possible, so that people in need have clean water. We are scaling up our response to reach half a million people with water and other essential aid, such as clothing, hygiene kits and emergency shelter packs.

The first 1,000 hygiene kits, containing water purification equipment and soap, are expected to arrive in Palu on Monday.

With so many people devastated by this emergency, our teams are working hard to help affected communities in Sulawesi. But we cannot do this without public support.

You can help us provide urgent aid. Click here to make a lifesaving donation.


SBS News: Ex-pats raise thousands for Indonesia as they await news from missing loved ones

“We know that Australians have always been generous especially to our neighbours in times of emergency responses.” — Oxfam Australia humanitarian manager, Meg Quartermaine, speaking to SBS News.

Read the full story


Stories from the ground: Anjas


What we know so far

Late Friday afternoon, a huge and shallow 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck the coastal town of Palu and Donggala in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Fifteen minutes later, a tsunami with waves as high as six metres hit the northern coast of Sulawesi, destroying thousands of homes and buildings along the coastline.

Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Since Friday, there have been more than 254 aftershocks, ranging from a magnitude of 2.9 to 6.3.

The death toll is still expected to climb steeply over the coming days.

It is the most devastating earthquake to hit Indonesia since 2004.

Watch our Facebook Live Q&A with Oxfam Australia humanitarian manager, Meg Quartermaine:


How Oxfam is helping

Oxfam and our local partners are preparing to deliver emergency water supply to the tsunami survivors in Sulawesi.

Clean water is vital, especially as the water supply infrastructure and pipes in Sulawesi have been critically damaged.

Sanitation, soap and working toilets are also crucial to stop the spread of disease.

It was only 4 months ago that our in-country staff were mobilised to respond to the Lombok earthquakes in July and the recovery from the Lombok disaster is still ongoing.


What are the challenges on the ground?

Accessing the affected regions is a challenge at this stage.

The main road linking the city of Palu to the rest of Central Sulawesi has been blocked off by a landslide, and other infrastructure such as electricity and water pipes are very badly damaged or destroyed. It is also hard to find fuel to buy in the main city of Palu.

Photo: Irwan Firdaus/Oxfam

This is making reaching people difficult — we’re hearing from Indonesia that it is taking 30 hours to transport supplies from the nearest functioning port, Makassar, to the worst-affected areas. But despite these difficulties, Oxfam teams and local partners are working hard to ensure that aid is urgently on its way to the people who need it.


Where is Sulawesi?

Sulawesi is an Indonesian island, about 1,600kms off the coast of the Northern Territory.

The island is made up of six smaller provinces West Sulawesi (Mamuju), North Sulawesi (Manado), Central Sulawesi (Palu), South Sulawesi (Makassar), South East Sulawesi (Kendari), Gorontalo (Gorontalo).

The largest city in Sulawesi is Makassar.

The island of Sulawesi has a total population of 17.4 million people.


Timeline of events

Friday 28th September

  • Late Friday night Australian time, a huge 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.
  • The tremor was followed by a large tsunami about 15 minutes later, which destroyed or damaged hundreds of houses along the coast.

Saturday 29th September

  • Oxfam prepare to respond in Indonesia after the earthquake and tsunami.
  • Oxfam’s Country Director in Indonesia, Maria Lauranti, said Oxfam partners and staff in the town of Palu were safe and prepared to provide emergency aid to those affected.

Sunday 30th September

  • Confirmed death toll sits at around 400 people.
  • Oxfam and its local partners assess damage in coastal towns.
  • Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Helen Szoke says Oxfam are looking to provide water, sanitation, emergency medical and health shelter, and emergency hygiene items, once it was safe to do so.

Monday 1st October

  • Bodies start to be buried in mass graves once they have been identified.
  • Indonesian Government requests international assistance as they announces more than 2 million people have been affected.
  • Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency says at least 1,200 people have been killed and hundreds of houses and buildings have collapsed.
  • Palu airport is operating at half capacity, making access difficult.
  • Oxfam’s local partners prepare to reach 100,000 people in Palu city and the Donggala district with essential aid.

Tuesday 2nd October

  • Oxfam sets up an emergency operation hub in Makassar.
  • Oxfam stands ready to deploy additional staff and resources to the area.
  • Oxfam have scaled up their response efforts and are now planning to provide life-saving humanitarian support to over 500,000 people.

Wednesday 3rd October

  • Thousands of children and adults are still unaccounted for.
  • Search and rescue operations are still ongoing.
  • Oxfam’s first response team reaches Palu and joins local partners on emergency assessments.

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