Indonesia: Mentawai earthquake and tsunami response
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Indonesian families and villages in the remote Mentawai Islands continue to face massive upheaval since last year’s earthquake and tsunami.
Entire villages have been moved inland, forcing residents to re-think work, income, and social relations.
Among the problems that local authorities are trying to address are the lack of independence of widows in the new areas, providing legal assistance to prevent human trafficking, and programmes to help residents adjust.
One tsunami-hit town is not covered by the government’s rehabilitation scheme. Residents are forced to stay in emergency shelter and badly need more permanent housing.
The location of the new villages, far from the sea and former fields, has left people dependent on help from the governments or NGOs. Virtually no work opportunities exist.
ACT members in north and south Pagai have provided lifesaving health care, hygiene kits, and have trained health workers in haematology examination. First aid training and psychosocial care have rounded off the health package provided by ACT.
The top five diseases in one village are gastritis, musculoskeletal diseases, skin disease, low appetite and hypertension, while in another they are upper respiratory tract infection, muscle pain, gastritis, hypertension, and low appetite.
Water supplies continue to be prone to contamination from soap and other chemicals, open defecation, and turbidity from rain storms. People are highly dependent on rain water or river water which is located far from their homes. Women go to the river to wash clothes or bathe, while on the other side of the river children and women gather water for cooking.
ACT has provided clean water to 60 sites on the islands, installed a traditional water filtration system, and will build water facilities and latrines and in two villages. Trucking of water was suspended in one area due to the poor condition of the roads. An effort to deliver construction materials for a school being built by ACT was abandoned because roads had deteriorated. Workers had to instead carry materials to the site.
Communication between villages is often impossible. In a medical emergency or natural disaster, or if the water truck is immobilised, villages have no way of letting neighbours know. Technology communication service is needed, be it radio, a telephone tower, broadband or even morse code.
Children scared of the sea and bad memories of the tsunami are regaining their innocence with singing, drawing, origami, and by watching puppet shows, all ACT-run programmes. Later, running races will be held, another means of improving confidence in the lives of the Mentawai's little ones.