Urgent need for clean water in tsunami-hit Sulawesi

Oxfam water treatment units and purification kits are en route to Palu, Sulawesi, with clean water in short supply after the deadly Indonesia earthquake and tsunami.

Water remains a critical issue, with most supply infrastructure, such as pipes, damaged in the earthquake. Some drinking water is being trucked in to the devastated communities, but it is not sufficient for the tens of thousands of people in need, and on ground treatment units will help meet the demand.

The death toll from the tsunami has risen to more than 1,400 people, and there are still fears it could rise further. There are estimates as many as 300,000 people homeless and more than 2.5 million people have been affected.

Oxfam’s Humanitarian Manager in Indonesia, Ancilla Bere, said: “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,” Ms Bere said.

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

Staff from Oxfam Indonesia and local partners have arrived in Palu, Sulawesi, with others on the way, and they will provide aid supplies and set up water purification systems with tanks and tap stands as soon as the equipment arrives.

Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Manager Meg Quartermaine said the organisation welcomed the Australian Government’s pledge of $5.5 million of Australian aid for survivors of the disaster.

“It was great to see essential aid supplies being flown from Australian to Indonesia yesterday, and Oxfam welcomed the announcement that the Government will also support humanitarian agencies’ responses.

“The provision of clean water and sanitation for communities is now essential in helping to prevent potential water-borne diseases.

“Along with water and sanitation, Oxfam is planning to help people recover as quickly as possible so they can rebuild their lives after this terrible disaster.”

Oxfam’s partners are members of the Humanitarian Knowledge Hub, a network established with the support of Oxfam in Indonesia, which consists of 16 community organisations led by JEMARI Sakato. Oxfam in Indonesia has been working to strengthen the capacity of the Humanitarian Knowledge Hub as the local force in disaster risk management. Together with Oxfam, the Hub also responded to the Lombok earthquakes in July.

/Public Release.