Kartika* a mother in Bliase village receiving a temporary shelter and hygiene kit from Save the Children and their partners in Indonesia.

A looming health crisis in the wake of Indonesia’s tsunami

As children and their families in Indonesia struggle to piece their lives back together after a powerful tsunami hit the island of Sulawesi, they are now facing the prospect of an emergency within an emergency. Fears are arising of a looming health crisis.

Our water and sanitation specialists supporting our partners on the ground have reported widespread contamination. In and around Palu, water pipes have been smashed to pieces, toilets and bathing facilities destroyed and treatment facilities broken.

With open defecation the only option for many families and sewage flooding the streets, we have a health crisis waiting in the wings.

Access to clean drinking water is hugely limited and if this doesn’t improve quickly, we’re going to see a significant increase in cases of diarrhoea in the coming days and weeks, as well as other illnesses like water borne diseases. This is incredibly worrying for children especially, who are more likely to succumb to dehydration or malnutrition because of diarrhoea.

We’re urgently taking action to protect families from this potential health crisis.

Through our local partners on the ground, we’re distributing hygiene kits to families containing essential items such as soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, towels, buckets and sanitary items. One of these kits costs just £19. But they are absolutely vital to keep children clean and healthy and help stave off illness and disease. In some cases, they can mean the difference between life and death for a child.

Wati* and her daughter Desi*,7, are staying in one of the temporary shelters for people displaced by the crisis.

We’ve also deployed a team of technical water and hygiene specialists, who will distribute water purification kits and set up a water trucking system to get clean water to families who urgently need it. They also plan to build temporary latrines for people who have lost their homes and are now living in temporary shelters with no access to sanitation facilities.

This water, sanitation and hygiene support is absolutely vital to ensure children and their families who have survived the tsunami and already suffered so much, don’t see their lives at risk once again as a result of illness and disease.

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