Post-Earthquake Indonesia: ACF International Mobilizes

Action Against Hunger's exploratory team has found considerable unmet needs in overlooked rural areas

The situation continues to grow worse in Indonesia in the aftermath of the earthquake that struck the region of Jogjakarta last week. Authorities now estimate more than 6,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless and displaced, while amidst the increased activity of the Merapi Volano everybody fears the worst.

Action against Hunger dispatched teams of emergency specialists immediately on the day of the tragedy to assess the situation. Additional volunteers joined them shortly thereafter and initiated food, water and sanitation operations in three provinces.

Significant Needs: Food, Shelter and Sanitation

The May 27 earthquake caused massive property damage: in certain areas, 80% of the houses were partially or entirely destroyed; in urban areas, water systems were partially destroyed, while damage to the majority of the areas' sanitation infrastructure presents a real risk for the contamination of underground water sources.

The most affected populations in rural areas are already having difficulty accessing food and drinking water, and they will face additional risks as the situation worsens in the days to come.

Reinforcing Local Solidarity

A significant outpouring of support in the days immediately following the catastrophe arose spontaneously from those who were left unscathed: once again, the Indonesian population showed a remarkable sense of solidarity in the face of such a daunting disaster.

As welcome as this development is, it must be reinforced and organized if it is to be sustained. Following the initial urgency of rescue efforts, those in need of aid and support will require of a far more structured response if additional lives are to be saved and normalcy returned as soon as possible.

ACF's Operation: Targeting the Worst Hit Areas

As always, Action Against Hunger has chosen to focus its efforts on the most vulnerable populations. The organization plans to ensure the basic needs (food, water and sanitation) for those who were most affected and who remain the most difficult to access: an estimated 50,000 people in 3 districts (in the provinces of Bantul and Klaten).

ACF will provide for the distribution of BP5 (protein biscuits) for families with children, clean drinking water, first aid kits, etc. As early as next week our teams will begin assessing the nutritional situation, as well as the psychosocial consequences of the shock sustained by the local populations, in order to plan for needs beyond the immediate emergency phase.

ACF International's Response

Following the earthquake that struck the Indonesian provinces of Java Central and Yogyakarta, ACF International (the Action Contre la Faim International Network) dispatched a team of emergency specialists, one of whom arrived on the day of the tragedy.

The team evaluated the situation in the area, assessing gaps in response and possible interventions. There were several organizations present in the area, following concerns raised by the activity of volcano Merapi, to the north of the affected areas. This, in conjunction with capacity gained at local and national levels during the response to the Tsunami that hit in December 2004, led ACF to target unmet needs in an otherwise efficient first response. Concerns remain about the 100,000 homeless and about their immediate future following the end of initial rescue efforts. ACF Internationsl's team is looking in this situation and focusing particularly on water and sanitation needs.