Earthquake Survivors in Palu Suffer from Water Crisis

Earthquake Survivors in Palu Suffer from Water Crisis

ACTNews, PALU – Water barrels, jerry cans, water tanks, hoses and wheelbarrows. For a month, the children in Tinggede Housing Complex, Tinggede Village, Marawola Sub-District, Sigi Regency had been very familiar with these items. These were not something they play or work with. Rather, these items had something to do with the water crisis that have befallen their area. If a day was spent without any of them being used, it means there was no clean water that reached their houses.

“We have to search for water to take a shower. We take a shower once a day using only a bucket of water. We love it when it rains because we like to get showered by the rain,” said Amir (8), a child from Tinggede.

A month had passed since the magnitude 7.4 earthquake. Not only losing their wealth and family members, the survivors had to deal with other problems such as lack of clean water. 

Unfortunately, water crisis affected not only evacuees in makeshifts tents, but also survivors in small settlement areas in Sigi Regency. In Tinggede, for example, water had stopped flowing from their taps for a month.

“Even if there is some water, the amount is only a little. It comes out only until 9 in the morning, and it is not much. It is only enough to wash our faces. The water has stopped running since the first day of the earthquake. Maybe some parts of the pipeline got buried underneath ruins,” said Riyatun (53), a local who talked with ACTNews in one of the alleys in Tinggede.

Riyatun mentioned that there was nothing she could do about it, but she was grateful that at least her husband Pujono (64) and she were alive. “We are already very grateful for simply being alive. If there is no water, we simply try not to wash our clothes that often. If it rains, we store the water for us to take a shower. If we have some money, we buy some water to wash our clothes. If there is free water distribution, we will be very glad and extremely grateful,” said Riyatun.

Thousands of liters of clean water distributed daily

In an effort to alleviate the disaster victims in Palu, Sigi, Donggala and Parigi, Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) responded to the water crisis. Diding Fachrudin, Coordinator of ACT’s Clean Water Distribution stated that thousands of liters of clean water was supplied every day to makeshift tents and settlement areas.

“We have been distributing thousands of liters of clean water, stored in six water tanks, every day for a week now. We move from one place to another, including to densely-populated areas located on highly-elevated grounds. They rely solely from pipe water that has stopped running,” said Fachrudin.

One of the distribution location is a densely-populated housing complex in Tinggede. Sabar (43), a driver of ACT’s water-carrying truck expressed his sadness and frustration upon seeing how the earthquake survivors had to struggle for clean water.

“I am sad to see the situation after the earthquake. In Tinggede, for instance, many have to seek water, carrying jerry cans by motorcycles to far places. Some even have heart to sell the water. Those who sell the water really have no empathy. That’s why we move every day to distribute free clean water. We carry 6,000 liters of water in one trip. We carried it in six water tanks,” said Sabar.

A month had passed since the disaster and the evacuees still have to deal with water crisis. With many of them unable to get back to work, clean water became more difficult to afford.

Maria Bunahar (61) mentioned how she had to spend IDR 70,000 only for a few buckets of water for her to take shower. She received the water from water seller that sometimes visited Tinggede complex.

“We have been waiting for the water seller to arrive, but he has not come yet. If buying water is the only choice left, then we’ll do it. But my money is running out. Some have bought water from faraway places by motorcycles. This is the problem we’re facing after the earthquake. Thank God, ACT has been sending clean water for us recently,” said Bunahar. 

Riyatun mentioned how the water crisis in Central Sulawesi reminded her of the situation in Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta Province, where she came from. It is also known as an area that is often affected by water crisis.

“Allah is testing us. I told my husband that it feels like back home after the earthquake. It feels like in Gunungkidul where water is also scarce,” she concluded. []

 

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