Long road to recovery for children who survived world’s deadliest earthquake of 2018

News and Press Release
Originally published

One year since a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, thousands of children have received life-saving training to prepare them for future disaster scenarios, including soil liquefaction.

Children are still recovering and display signs of distress from the magnitude 7.4 earthquake, which struck Sulawesi in September last year. It was the world’s deadliest since Nepal’s 2015 quake. The Sulawesi earthquake sent shockwaves travelling at supersonic speeds.

The violent shaking of the earth resulted in widespread soil liquefaction, a terrifying scenario in which the ground turns to liquid, causing mudslides and giant sinkholes. The earthquake also triggered a tsunami up to six metres high. More than 4,000 people died or are still missing.

World Vision’s Global Humanitarian Director, Justin Byworth, says many people in the impact zone weren’t prepared for liquefaction.

“Liquefaction was one of the Sulawesi earthquake’s most devastating effects. At first some thought the neighbourhood of Balaroa looked like it had been crushed by the tsunami, but the shaking of the ground actually transformed it into a giant sinkhole, almost like quicksand. It swallowed hundreds of buildings. Children are still showing signs of distress long after witnessing these horrific scenes.”

Humanitarian organisation World Vision and local partner organisations, such as Wahana Visi Indonesia, have been providing psychosocial support to children, and empowering them with the knowledge of what to do when earthquakes, tsunamis and soil liquefaction strike.

In child friendly spaces set up, thousands of children have benefitted from the training, which involves singing songs so that even children as young as five can memorise the life-saving skills.

“We are helping to empower community and children so they can protect themselves from the threat of earthquakes and tsunami throughout their lives. This is a necessary skill for children living in the so-called ‘Ring of Fire’ where these natural events occur frequently,” says Wahana Visi Indonesia Response Manager, Yacobus Runtuwene.

Across the zone, UN agencies estimated 1.5 million people were affected in the days following the disasters and children’s lives were completely disrupted. Only 12 per cent of children attended school in the immediate aftermath.

Many gains have been made as communities rebuild, but the recovery process is on-going. Drone footage by World Vision show’s Palu’s iconic Yellow Bridge still in ruins one year on.

More than 170,000 people are homeless, living in temporary housing. Liquefaction has impacted 430 hectares of land, rendering people’s homes unsafe and unliveable for years to come.

“The massive scale of the soil liquefaction created a horrific situation that nobody could have predicted. Many residents didn’t think this could happen,” says Mr Runtuwene.

Since the earthquake and tsunami struck, World Vision and local partners have worked in coordination with the Indonesian Government to reach 160,000 people, including:

· 46,077 households with food and non-food supplies
· 21,000 people through health and nutrition programmes
· Nearly 15,000 children through education programmes
· More than 7,730 children through child protection programmes set up in Child Friendly Spaces across Sigi, Palu and Donggala areas
· Students have benefited from the construction of 60 temporary learning spaces while schools were rebuilt
· 12,588 students received learning kits, which consisted of XX and XX consisted of bags, books, and school stationery
· 802 teachers trained to provide psychosocial support to children
· Construction of more than 500 temporary toilets and hand-washing facilities in displacement camps and schools
· Livelihoods support for communities, including 200 farmers whose farms were damaged
· Communities educated about disaster resilience and risk reduction programming

The organisation will continue to support the recovery and rehabilitation, with a focus on child protection and disaster resilience, until September 2020.


World Vision and local partner organisation Wahana Visi Indonesia have spokespeople available, as well as 2018 and current drone footage (must provide a credit):

Video/photo case studies are available upon request.

For more information contact:
Hana Maria –Public Communications Manager