Multiple earthquakes (including foreshocks and more than 500 aftershocks) hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday, Sept. 28. The town of Donggala was closest to the epi-center of the large 7.5 magnitude earthquake and suffered extensive damage. Due to the level of damage and significant communications disruptions, full details about the earthquake’s impact on Donggala are still emerging. A post-earthquake tsunami also hit the provincial capital city of Palu causing massive destruction as 18 feet high waves rushed in. On Oct. 3, the Mount Soputan volcano on the island of Sulawesi erupted, the volcano is located about 375 miles northwest of Palu. No deaths or injuries have been reported connected to the eruption.

As of Oct. 9, officials have reported that 2,045 people have died. Due to the difficulty of continued retrieval efforts, official search and retrieval efforts are being halted in the Petobo, Balaroa and Jono Oge areas of Palu. During the earthquake, the soil liquified and houses and people were buried in more than nine feet of rubble and mud. According to the Chiefs of Balaroa and Petobo, more than 5,000 are missing, but on Sunday the government only officially acknowledged 265 people missing and 152 confirmed buried. A government spokesperson told a news briefing that “more than 8,000 either injured or vulnerable residents have been flown or shipped out of Palu, while others could have left by land.”

More than 65,000 homes and buildings were destroyed and more than 70,000 people are homeless. The Indonesian disaster management agency estimated that over two million people will need humanitarian aid.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has welcomed international aid, according to Thomas Lembong, chair of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM – Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal) which works to attract foreign and domestic investments into Indonesia.

Critical Needs

Immediate needs include direct cash support to organizations providing:

  • Food
  • Fresh water and sanitation
  • Tents
  • Fuel, electricity, communications technology and other infrastructure needs

In international disasters, cash donations are recommended by disaster experts as they allow for on-the-ground agencies to direct funds to the greatest area of need, to support economic recovery and to ensure that donations management doesn’t take away from disaster recovery needs.

According to Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla, redevelopment and reconstruction of the disaster zone will take at least two years.

While CDP does not currently recommend any specific nonprofits, we do encourage donors to consider the following before supporting any organization:

  • Does the organization have a pre-existing relationship in the impacted country? This can include working in previous disasters or ongoing program delivery.
  • Does the organization have staff on the ground, including locals who provide cultural, technical, and geographic knowledge of the communities and their needs?
  • Has the government requested international assistance and is the organization working through the proper channels (not self-deploying)?
  • Does the organization have a disaster response history and/or provide a necessary service needed in a specific disaster? While a nonprofit may expand the scope of its work to meet communities’ needs, it shouldn’t be trying to change its mandate to take financial advantage of the disaster.

If you are a responding NGO or a donor, please send updates on how you are working in this crisis to tanya.gulliver-garcia@disasterphilanthropy.org.

If you are a donor looking for recommendations on how to help in this crisis, please email regine.webster@disasterphilanthropy.org.

Additional Resources

Featured image source: AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana