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Sulawesi: Six months on

17 April 2019, Emergencies

How your support helped pick up the pieces in earthquake and tsunami shattered Sulawesi

In the morning of September 28 last year, a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook and split the earth on the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi. The quake triggered a deadly tsunami, which left a trail of devastation in Palu City and coastal areas. Tens of thousands of children were made instantly homeless and an estimated 4,340 people were killed. 

Thanks in a big way to your incredible generosity, Save the Children was able to mount a rapid, large scale response that helped save thousands of children’s lives. We were one of the first agencies to gain access to Sulawesi. In those critical first few days, the backing we had from supporters enabled us to reach almost 6,500 people with life-saving support.

The immediate essentials

The disaster forced almost 165,000 people from their homes and left water supplies and other vital infrastructure shattered. Families were exposed to the elements, left without clean water and put at heightened risk of disease. 

Thanks to your support, we worked to help people find shelter as quickly as possible. You helped us deliver other essentials including hygiene kits, mosquito nets and access to clean water. You also helped provide thousands of families with cash grants so they could buy whatever they most urgently needed, such as food, clothes and medicine. 

Keeping children safe 

The earthquake and tsunami left children homeless and at heightened risk of exploitation, abuse or trafficking. Many were traumatised by what they’d been through. Some were alone, separated from their families amid the chaos. Your generous support helped us keep them safe from harm.  

Safe spaces

52 Child Friendly Spaces have given 9,700 children a place to play, learn and live like children again. 
​Psychological support: We reached around 9,200 of the most vulnerable people with psychological support to help them come to terms with their terrible experiences, and trained hundreds of local people to provide psychosocial care to children caught up in the disaster. 

Community support

We set up local child protection committees, training community leaders and community volunteers to keep children safe from harm.

Family tracing

We reunited 22 children with their families through our pioneering family tracing work.


Children search for crabs near a mosque which was swept out to sea.

Back to School

Learning is often one of the first casualties in an emergency – it’s also one of the most important things to restore, and as quickly as possible. Education has the power to give children the hope of a better future – even, or perhaps most especially, in times of crisis. 

In the six months since the disaster struck Sulawesi, your support has meant we could set up dozens of temporary classrooms, repair damaged school buildings and distribute back-to-school kits – containing pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners and notebooks, all in a backpack – so that thousands of children didn’t have to miss out on their education.

Healthy mums, healthy babies

The disaster forced tens of thousands of children from their homes, and cut many off from the healthcare, food and safe water they needed to survive. Families have been living in temporary shelters, deprived of decent sanitation and at serious risk of deadly disease. Newborn babies and pregnant women have been especially vulnerable. 

Thanks to your support, we reached more than 1,200 new mothers and over 250 pregnant women with training on good feeding practices for their young children during an emergency.  
We gave 121 pregnant and lactating women baby and mother kits, containing baby blankets, baby bath soap & flannels, and telon oil which helps stimulate baby nerves, aids digestion and keep them warm, and supplied 1,150 women with dignity kits, providing them with soap and sanitary items. And we trained 146 community health workers to help us reach even more vulnerable women and children. 
Water and sanitation
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster we trucked in emergency water supplies to remote communities. Over the past six months, we’ve installed new water tanks, distributed water kits to more than 77,000 people, and built hundreds of emergency latrines to help tackle the spread of disease.

All thanks to you

This is a huge recovery operation. One carried out in extremely challenging circumstances. And one that still has much to be done to get families back on their feet.

When the earthquake and tsunami hit, we put the call out and you responded. Without your support, not nearly as many people could have been reached with the emergency care they needed. For that, we are truly grateful. 

Children play at an elementary school supported by Save the Children

Images: Jiro Osre/Save the Children

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