“People are most terrified of this liquefaction phenomenon” CARE reports, as aid reaches worst affected.

ByCARE Australia October 17, 2018 0 comments

Distribution of aid has begun in the worst affected parts of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi following last month’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Humanitarian aid agency CARE reports that while lack of clean water and sanitation facilities are the two biggest problems, they are not the survivors’ greatest fear.

“People are most terrified of this liquefaction phenomenon, more than the earthquake itself and the aftershocks,” said Wahyu Widayanto, CARE Indonesia’s Emergency Response Coordinator on the ground in Palu.

“Imagine watching your house shift 300 meters right in front of you.  People told me it looks like a wave when it moves.  People are very worried another big quake will cause more liquefaction and they will have nowhere to go, nowhere to run to.”

2,096 people are now confirmed dead, with over 10,000 injured and more than 82,000 displaced.  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.

CARE’s needs assessment showed 30% of survivors do not have access to clean, safe drinking water.  Combined with a lack of sanitation facilities, CARE says disease is now a concern, with fever and diarrhoea reported.

“And the rainy season has now started. That means there are more mosquitos, and this is especially bad for the young children sleeping outside without any mosquito nets,” Wahyu Widayanto said.

CARE Indonesia is working in the hardest hit areas of Palu, Donggala and Sigi with some of the most difficult to access communities.  In addition to emergency family shelter kits, CARE is distributing hygiene kits to around 1,000 households worst affected by the earthquake and tsunami. The kits include soap, water purification tablets, buckets and laundry detergent, as well as items specifically targeted at women and girls, such as sanitary napkins.

“Women are telling me their biggest 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,” Widayanto said.

CARE is looking to raise USD$ 15 million in funding to be used over a four-year period to provide immediate lifesaving assistance, as well as to be able to respond to longer term needs.

As Widayanto notes, “People have lost everything, including their homes and they are dealing with the trauma of their experience. 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.”


Damaged cars seen in Petobo Village which affected by liquefaction following the earthquake on September 28th 2018.
Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. .October 11th 2018


Link to pictures here.

To arrange an interview with CARE Indonesia’s Country Director Helen Vanwel,
contact Hannah McGovern at CARE Australia on 0419 567 777



CARE has offices in the south of Sulawesi Island in Makassar, where it has been operating for nearly 30 years. CARE has worked in Indonesia since 1967, initially focused on food distribution, small infrastructure projects, health, the environment, and water and sanitation. In 2004, CARE Indonesia was one of the primary emergency responders after the South Asian tsunami. Emergency response and disaster risk reduction with a focus on women and girls is always CARE Indonesia’s first priority.  Its other core activities all focus on women and youth and include: Integrated Risk Management comprising resilience, food security and climate change; Economic Empowerment and leadership; and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene.

CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities. www.care.org.au

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