ACT News Update Indonesia 01/04: ACT members' response to Earthquakes in Alor and Nabire

News and Press Release
Originally published
Geneva, 9 December, 2004 - ACT members Church World Service Indonesia (CWS), Yakkum Emergency Unit (YEU) and Yayasan Tanggul Bencana-PGI (YTB) have been responding with their emergency funds to the earthquakes which hit Alor on 12 November and Nabire, Papua on 26 November 2004.

ACT Alerts for both emergencies were issued.

Alor is disaster prone area, where three big earthquakes have taken place in 1987, 1991 and now 2004. The island has a limited transportation and communication infrastructure. Access to healthcare is limited which means that a disaster like this earthquake puts the affected people at risk of diseases like measles and respiratory infections. The few health staff on the island have been directed to the two most affected districts i.e. Alor Timur Laut and Alor Tengah Utara. This is impacting on health services in other affected and isolated villages. Some additional health staff to assist in responding to the emergency needs have been made available through the Red Cross Indonesia, YEU and Pelkesi (Indonesian Christian Association for Health Service) and World Vision International.

The aftershocks have frightened people and families are preferring to stay outside under plastic tents, which creates further health risks in particular now that the rainy season has started. In some areas people are also afraid to go to their gardens. The Government estimates that less than 35 % of the people in the two most affected districts will continue their gardening activities. This means that people will loose one planting period and thus will not have sufficient food stock for next year.

Tensions in the communities are easily increased, as some people believe that this earthquake is the result of gas mining in the Alor Timur Laut district, close to the epicenter of the earthquake.

After the first relief provided by the Government and NGOs, there is an obvious need for rehabilitation.

Papua Province has a high risk for earthquakes, as it is located at the intersection of two earth crusts i.e. Pacific crust and the Papua crust. This was the second earthquake in 2004 - the previous one hit on 6 February. The community and local government are still in the rehabilitation phase. 1.059 aftershocks have been recorded since 26 November.

The local government task force (SATLAK) coordinating the disaster in Nabire has recorded 28 people killed, 178 houses burnt and 348 housed collapsed, 1.724 houses badly damaged. Religious buildings like mosques, churches and temples have been damaged, as well as school buildings, market places, stores and office buildings. Bridges, roads, dams, the seaport and airport as well as the telephone, electricity and water systems have been affected. Due to limited transportation to the island relief items could not be shipped in quickly.

Here the people are also building tents in their yards or in the streets nearby. Those people who can afford it are leaving the area.

The urgent needs are for clean water and disease prevention. Many water pipes and tanks (246) are broken. Water in the available wells is contaminated and not fit for human consumption. The Government's public water company (PDAM) will take on the repairs. The earthquake has further stressed the already limited basic health care facilities in the remote areas. Most puskesmas (village/community health centres belonging to and managed by the Government) are not staffed by qualified personnel, not attended by medical doctors and often there are no medicines available.

As the people are experiencing high levels of stress and are exposed to rain while living outside, they are quite vulnerable to diseases.

The ACT members YEU, YTB and CWS have prepared a joint appeal to cover responses in both Alor and Nabire. YEU will be the co-ordinating agency. Each member will focus on different areas, but will include or invite the other ACT members when other expertise is needed.

On ALOR, YEU will focus on 14 villages in Alor Timur and 3 villages in Alor Selatan. They have provided a mobile health service and are working with village health cadres in the districts (Kecamatan) Alor Timur and Kecamatan Alor Selatan. Presently 10 villages are already being assisted. The health team also will pay attention to supplementary feeding for under five children since the assessment showed that under five children and pregnant mothers have a very low nutrition status, which places them at a higher risk during this emergency situation.

In addition 50 tarpaulins are being distributed for temporary schools and religious buildings and 300 tarpaulins for individual households. In coordination with CWS, YEU will also distribute CWS assistance in the form of 250 personal hygiene packages, 250 blankets, 8 hard rugs, 50 family packages in Alor Timur. In coordination with YTB, YEU provided a mobile health service in Alor Selatan. There is further a request from a church team in Kalabahi (YTB's partner) to provide health training for their cadres in 7 klasis (structure under synod) to be able to address emergency situations. In coordination with Oxfam GB and Humanitarian Forum, YEU will distribute another 1000 tarpaulins.

YTB will focus its work in 16 villages in the Alor Selatan district and will distribute food items and school kits.

CWS will focus on 3 villages in Alor Timur Laut district, but at its latest aid distribution included to additional villages. CWS will rehabilitate water and sanitation systems at Air Mancur village using other resources, if available, or their own funds. Although CWS will not be a recipient of this appeal, they will closely coordinate and where possible support the other two ACT members.

In NABIRE, YEU is the main implementing member and plans to work in Samabusa and Kimi in co-ordination with Primari, a local health NGO, and in Waroke village with the local Klasis GKI Paniai, a member of PGI/YTB, to meet the need for clean water.

The proposed budget for the appeal (ASID-43) is USD 131,749, which includes the immediate relief response and assessment phase as well as the rehabilitation phase.

ACT CO is presently working on the appeal and hopes to be able to issue the appeal by 15 December.

The ACT CO would highly appreciate to receive indications for support to this coming appeal to allow the ACT members in Indonesia to continue their planning and implementation.

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Interim Director, Jenny Borden (phone ++41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 203 6055)
ACT Appeals Officer, Mieke Weeda (phone ++ 41 22 791 6035 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 285 2916)

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