Following a magnitude 7.7 earthquake on 28 September 2018, large parts of Palu city, the capital of Central Sulawesi Province, along with the surrounding regencies of Sigi, Donggala, and Parigi Moutong on the Island of Sulawesi, were destroyed by liquefaction and a tsunami.1 According to the most recent assessments, as of 20 December 2018, 2,227 people were killed, 164,626 people were displaced into informal settlements and in tents outside of their homes, and 20,257 were in need of temporary shelters out of a previous population of over 1.2 million individuals before the disaster.2,3 Four months after the earthquake, very little information is available on the needs and displacement situation of the population in Central Sulawesi Province. In order to address the needs of the population, REACH, as a standby partner to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) supported the Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI) and Universitas Muhammadiyah Palu (UNISMUH) to conduct a household-level multi-sector needs assessment on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs (Kemensos) and the Government of Central Sulawesi Province, with financial support from ECHO.
The assessment was conducted through a statistically representative household survey, administered in 38 of 62 sub-districts located in the regencies of Donggala, Palu and Sigi in Central Sulawesi Province that were affected by the earthquake. In collaboration with humanitarian partners of the Displacement and Protection (PP) Cluster, a joint set of indicators and questionnaire was agreed upon and administered by trained enumerators to a random sample of households in each sub-district. Target households, from six separate population groups4 , were identified using randomly distributed GPS points based on OpenStreetMap shelter footprints. Data collection, using Kobo forms, lasted between 22 January and 6 February 2019 using a gender-balanced team of 71 enumerators and 9 team leaders. In total, 4,264 households were interviewed. Findings are statistically representative with a minimum confidence level of 95% and a 10% margin of error at the sub-district level and at crisis level for each separate population group. The assessment did not cover extremely remote or inaccessible areas, and did not cover households who were living in government transitional shelters (huntara collectifs) as the population moved in to these shelters after the assessment team had completed data collection in those areas.
The following were key findings from the assessment:
26% of households are displaced outside of their own homes or apartments; however, only 9% of households are staying in the informal settlements targeted by previous assessment and interventions.
Many displaced household (10%) are hosted either directly or in empty houses the non-displaced community has provided for them. Another 5% are living in tents outside of their homes.
Needs tended to vary based on displacement status, rather than geography. Most households in Palu, Sigi, and Donggala were found to have similar needs, in terms of food security, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). In Parigi Moutong, which was much less affected by the disaster, needs were often different and more related to health and education.
Education access has largely returned to the same levels as before the disaster; however many children in Parigi Moutong were reported to have not been attending school before the disaster, suggesting underlying issues beyond school repair.
Health issues are likely to be compounded by unresolved issues around nutrition and sanitation; the poor nutrition and sanitation environment, along with the high instance of diarrhoea among IDP households may lead to additional need for health services.
Displaced households, particularly those living in informal settlements and those living in tents or makeshift shelters next to their former homes, were found to be the most vulnerable groups and remain the most affected by the disaster. They have suffered more economic loss, and will require more support rebuilding their businesses and resuming their livelihoods in a displaced setting.
Although a plurality of displaced households were living in other households’ homes or were directly supported by the host community, they also experienced difficulties in accessing some services, particularly shelter support, and often had more difficulties receiving aid due to being more difficult to identify among the local population.
Access to services in Palu was largely dependent upon displacement status; non-displaced households tended to access basic services more easily and sufficiently than IDP households. In Donggala and Sigi, service access was more dependent upon how far the sub-district was from Palu Town. Most households in Parigi Moutong were not affected and many of the household’s complaints were focused more on longerterm issues, such as a lack of access to healthcare or insufficient water.
Although inadequate sanitation issues noted during the early response have largely been resolved, displaced households reported worrying levels of open defecation, and while there are sufficient communal latrines in informal settlements, many lack many basic protection features.
A majority of households likely want to repair or rebuild their former homes; however, without support they will be unable to do so, and a majority of households expressed a desire to stay in their current locations for the following 6 months, even though many of them are living in difficult displacement situations. Many of the displaced households that are living in informal settlements or temporary shelters outside of their former homes do not have a place in the government transitional shelters and a majority reportedly feel stuck where they are without support to rebuild their homes.
Food was the most needed type of aid reported by households, regardless of regency or displacement status. Although most food security indicators were acceptable and the most commonly received type of aid was food, a lack of dietary diversity in food aid is likely contributing to potential nutritional deficiencies in children and other household members that consume it.
Households living in liquefaction and tsunami-affected areas are unable to return and rebuild on their lands. Many have been relocated to government-built transitional shelters; however, many others are still unable to return home and may need additional support in relocating to safer areas. In addition, much of the Central Sulawesi area that was not affected by liquefaction is liquefaction prone, and populations living there are vulnerable to future disasters.