Indonesia is a nation of more than 17,000 islands spanning the South Pacific and Indian Ocean along some of the world’s busiest sea routes. The Indonesian archipelago is highly active geologically, making it unusually vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Indonesia suffered greater damage from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami than any other country. It also lost more lives, with an estimated 160,000 Indonesians among the more than 220,000 killed in the disaster.
International Medical Corps first deployed to Indonesia in 2000, when we established an emergency healthcare program in North Maluku. We then expanded to other areas following crises in Maluku, West and Central Kalimantan, Madura Island, North and Central Sulawesi, and North Sumatra. In 2004, International Medical Corps was among the first international relief organizations to reach Indonesia’s hard-hit Aceh region following the giant Indian Ocean tsunami. We provided a broad range of healthcare services—including emergency medicine, trauma surgery, and maternal and child health—in some of the worst-hit communities of that disaster, which claimed approximately 230,000 lives across the Indian Ocean region.
International Medical Corps currently is in Indonesia supporting response efforts following a series of powerful earthquakes that struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on September 28, 2018. The largest quake, a powerful magnitude 7.4, shook the region at 5:02 p.m. local time, triggering a tsunami that hit nearby coastlines, including the coastal city of Palu. Indonesia’s National Board of Disaster Management (BNPB) estimates that 2.4 million people were affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Many thousands of buildings collapsed or were subsumed, more than 2,200 people died, and almost 6,000 were severely injured or deemed missing. Needs for those affected by the disasters included shelter, clean water, food, fuel, medicines and medical personnel, and psychosocial support.
Our emergency response team is in Palu and Jakarta working with our network of partner organizations and coordinating with on-the-ground actors, governments and other agencies to provide shelter, mental health services, and water, sanitation and hygiene services, among other response and recovery activities. Because of International Medical Corps’ deep experience in the country, we are able to quickly mobilize staff and assets across a range of sectors as priority needs are identified.
For example, in Central Sulawesi, we are working with our local partners, KUN Humanity System and YKMI, to build shelters, latrines and furniture with local materials, including bamboo. The program involves community members who build these shelters—an aspect of the program that is critical for sustainability, because community members will thus learn the skills and how to obtain the materials needed to fix their shelters if they experience need after the program ends. The use of bamboo also is important because it dovetails with the government’s climate-change mitigation efforts, which aim to strengthen the capacity of local communities to get the most from this valuable, renewable resource. According to advocates, bamboo-based remediation efforts boost rural household incomes while protecting natural resources.
In addition, we are working with the IBU Foundation on programs that provide psychosocial support, child protection, shelter and disaster management services. And, with partners KUN and YKMI, we are working to provide sources of clean water to villages throughout the region, along with hygiene and sanitation resources.
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Photos from the Field
We Were There: September 2018 Earthquakes and Tsunami
Our emergency response team was quickly on the ground in Indonesia to support response efforts following a series of powerful earthquakes and the resulting tsunami that struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on September 28, 2018.Read more
We Were There: December 2018 Tsunami
Three months after a powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake caused a tsunami that struck Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, our emergency response team was quickly on the ground in Indonesia to support response efforts following the tsunami that struck December 2018.Read more