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At a glance: Indonesia

Safe water and a new sense of community for Central Java quake survivors

UNICEF Image: Indonesia Central Java: Quake survivors
© UNICEF/HQ06-1856/Estey
Research and Development Officer Oding from the Yogyakarta Community Foundation demonstrates how to use water-purification supplies from UNICEF in the Central Java village of Gadungan Pasar.

By Arie Rukmantara and Steve Nettleton

GADUNGAN PASAR, Indonesia, 14 December 2006 – Mohammad Arief injects a clear chemical from a syringe into a bucket of water drawn from a village well. His audience, mostly women and children from the village of Gadungan Pasar, watches the water with expectation. Yet no visible change occurs.

Mr. Arief, who prefers to go by the name Oding, informs spectators that while they cannot see the difference, the water is now safe to drink.

In this devastated village, Oding is leading a hygiene promotion session. It is part of his personal commitment to communities that are struggling to rebuild after the powerful earthquake that struck Yogyakarta and its neighbouring districts on 27 May.

A source of life

Oding works for the Yogyakarta Community Foundation, or YKY, a non-governmental organization striving to improve water and sanitation for earthquake survivors. He says he is dedicated to helping survivors overcome their grief and trauma, and leave the past behind.

Urging quake survivors to move on, however, is not enough. Oding also wants to see them enjoying safe water, a source of life to which he believes everyone should have access.

UNICEF Image: Indonesia Central Java: Quake survivors
© UNICEF/HQ06-1856/Estey
During recess, schoolchildren use new temporary latrines provided by the Yogyakarta Community Foundation and UNICEF.

With UNICEF’s support, YKY is working to clean and repair some 10,000 wells in the region, restoring vital water points for local villagers. Using buckets and high-pressure pumps, crews clear out debris from damaged wells and treat the water to make it drinkable.

In addition, UNICEF and YKY are building latrines and bathing facilities in neighbourhoods and schools on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Yogyakarta.

Residents band together

Now that UNICEF and its partners are helping with water and sanitation, many quake survivors can focus on rebuilding their homes and livelihoods. And some have gone further than that, managing to rebuild a strong sense of community.

Kartilah, a Gadungan Pasar resident who lost her home in the 5.9-magnitude tremor, sees a bright light in the dark tunnel of her days as a displaced person. She is comforted to see the villagers banding together to support each other.

“In my opinion, now there are no more rich and poor people,” says Kartilah, who used to sell fruits and vegetables in the nearby market. “We are all the same now. We are facing the same problem. We have the spirit to face the consequences of the disaster.”

Although she had to switch jobs to washing clothes for her neighbours in order to make a living, Kartilah is heartened by the strong connections in the community. “Survivors are finding common purpose in recovering from disaster,” she says.




13 December 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Steve Nettleton reports on the rebuilding of safe water sources for Central Java villages devastated by the May 2006 earthquake.
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