Oxfam delivering water treatment and purification equipment to Palu area, Indonesia

By Oxfam
A man near Palu salvages belonging from the wreckage of his home after a devastating earthquake hit Sulawesi Island. Oxfam is responding to the disaster, and aims to reach half a million people with aid. Photo: Hariandi Hafid/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Lack of water a serious concern for people affected by earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia.

Oxfam staff and local partners are working in Palu on Sulawesi Island where an earthquake and tsunami have killed more than 1,400 people and seriously injured 2,549. Staff are also reporting more than 65,000 homes have been damaged, and there are nearly 71,000 displaced people seeking shelter. More than 2.5 million people on Sulawesi have been affected by the disaster. 

Iren (28) takes care of her 7-month-old baby at a tent for displaced people in Palu. Her house was destroyed by the earthquake. Photo: Irwan Firdaus/Oxfam

Oxfam is shipping equipment for purifying water from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta to Palu. Staff in the area report that water supply infrastructure such as pipes were damaged in the earthquake. “In many areas of Palu and surrounding towns, there is no running water and few working toilets,” says Oxfam’s Humanitarian Manager in Indonesia Ancilla Bere. “Sanitation is a serious concern.” Some water is being trucked into devastated communities but not in sufficient amounts to meet the needs of tens of thousands of people. New water treatment units will help meet this demand.

"Oxfam is working to deliver water purification units as soon as possible and scaling up its response to reach 500,000 people with clean water, essential aid supplies like hygiene kits, water kits and shelter packs, and livelihood support,” Bere says.  

A man fills out forms at a center for displaced people that he hopes will help him find his wife and son, missing for nearly a week. He says his son was in a mosque when the earthquake hit. Photo: Irwan Firdaus/Oxfam

Bere says all the organizations are struggling with conditions in the Palu area as they continue to search for survivors and deliver assistance. “Difficulty getting equipment and supplies into Palu, because of damage to roads, bridges, and the airport, is still hampering response efforts,” Bere says. 

“The scale of the damage from the earthquake and tsunami is huge, and there are fears many bodies are buried under collapsed houses and buildings.” 

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