Our Indonesian colleague Ejodia Kakoensi has been helping on the island of Sulawesi since the beginning of October. On 28 September, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused enormous damage there, leaving more than 2,000 dead and tens of thousands affected. Together with two local partner organisations, she is implementing emergency relief measures on the ground. Here she explains the situation one month later.
You are working on Sulawesi Island since beginning of October. How did and do you perceive the relief efforts in the affected area? Was it coordinated, sufficient and efficient?
Coordination and distribution is better now. The government, NGOs, religious institution, civil society organization and government representatives from different provinces in Indonesia join effort to meet the need of people and of Central Sulawesi administrative. It is difficult to say that it was done sufficiently and efficiently, but the coordination did take place. Beside the tsunami that already known to most people in Indonesia, Central Sulawesi earthquake had triggered liquefaction. We, Indonesians, never had such experience ever. People were so traumatized and panicked; they implored to be evacuated outside Palu, or as far as possible. Meanwhile other people were excavating and digging the mud in search for their love ones in three most affected areas of liquefaction. What I saw was far from sufficient, but the effort took place.
How is the situation almost one month after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami?
Life in Palu and its surroundings is slowly recovering, offices and schools in several areas started, shops open even only half day, traditional market has back in business; local food such as vegetables, eggs, fruit, fish, chicken are easy to get and remain normal prices. PERTAMINA, the national gas company provided gas and make sure that fuel is available in Palu, Donggala and Sigi since the 4th day after the earthquake. Some prices do increase such as renting cars and residence, but so far the increasing price still not as high as in the aftermath of the tsunami in Aceh in 2004.
You as aid worker of Johanniter have coordinated the implementation of emergency aid with local partners. Why with local organizations instead of direct implementation?
Since the beginning, when the president of Indonesia announced that international aid are welcomed, it was already stated, that local NGOs are the ones implementing the relief work. From what I understand about the government policy regarding international funding implemented by local NGO is to make sure that the aid meet the need of people in their own context without creating "another tsunami”. This term was often cited by people referring to Aceh post tsunami 2004, when the international aid intervened the region. Both PERUATI and INANTA in their long years of work in their particular field have been in partnership with international donors. Outcomes, best practices, as well as lesson learned are components that they have achieved. I'm sure this will be the same with Central Sulawesi emergency response project together with Johanniter.
Johanniter International Assistance is implementing distributions, psychosocial support and WASH- components until December with both INANTA and PERUATI. What steps will follow in the coming months?
The emergency response phase will be finished October 26 and recovery starts early November to December. After December we probably need to ensure that the affected communities still get their survival items as well as support for livelihood accompanied by training on Disaster Risk Reduction and Market Assessment. Cash transfer program or cash based assistance could be the most strategic modality to improve people's livelihood, especially for those living in urban. At the same time, psychosocial service, gender mainstreaming, disability inclusion and child protection are continuously guaranteed. Both partners PERUATI and INANTA are good and experienced in these fields.