Oxfam and Local Partners Reach More than 100,000 Earthquake Survivors with Assistance

By Oxfam
Yogyakarta, Indonesia – 3 June 2006 – One week after a major earthquake rocked central Java, Oxfam and its local partners have provided emergency assistance to 100,000 people in communities hit hard by the disaster. Distributing drinking water, tarpaulins, and other relief items such as soap, Oxfam spent the first week of its three-month disaster response focusing on meeting basic needs in the stricken region.

Although tarps provide emergency protection from the elements, Oxfam will soon be distributing sheets of zinc and toolboxes to enable survivors to create better shelter against the heavy rains that fall at night.

"We were able to act quickly and deliver emergency supplies during these first seven days," says David Macdonald, Senior Program Manager for Oxfam's Yogyakarta office. "Now we want to equip people to build their own, more substantial shelter."

Oxfam will also build latrines and continue to provide clean water, both of which are crucial to preventing the outbreak and spread of waterborne disease in the chaotic aftermath of a disaster. Cash-for-work programs will be introduced, as well, in order to give people a chance to earn an income while carrying out badly needed community projects.

According to Macdonald, "People in remote areas continue to need help, and they are the most vulnerable in a disaster of this kind."

Oxfam's partners, who fanned out through the affected areas this week to assess the impact of the quake, have determined that the worst-affected people are those living in small agricultural communities. Based on their assessments, Oxfam has identified two sub-districts, or kecamatans, for deliveries of the new shelter materials.

With its national office and warehouse located in Yogyakarta, ongoing partnerships with local organizations, and extra supplies in place in preparation for a possible eruption of the nearby Merapi volcano, Oxfam was able to mount a rapid response to the earthquake disaster. In the first seven days of the response, Oxfam delivered nearly 24,000 gallons of water, 12,500 tarps, and 20,000 other relief items, such as hygiene kits and sarongs.

"Over the next three months we want to ensure that the poorest people with limited access to clean drinking water and other essential resources get the tools they need to move on toward true recovery," says Macdonald. "We want to develop solutions that give people an opportunity to build back their lives."

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