Relief for Indonesia Earthquake Survivors

CHF team with beneficiaries
CHF team with beneficiaries

Adam LeClair, CHF Program Officer in charge of the CHF efforts in Padang, sent on an update after wrapping up their activities in the earthquake-affected region. I've attached the full report as a link and pulled out a few excerpts below. All five latrines have been completed and it sounds like they will make a real difference in the five communities in which they were constructed for years to come. Take a read:

"Design and Construction of Communal Latrines: The building structure was designed to be both durable and cost effective, using ferro-cement which requires a wooden frame, and a combination of cement and chicken wire for the walls. Locals are familiar with this method of construction because it has been used on older houses in the area. The floors were constructed of concrete and concrete blocks and the roof was built using transparent fiber roofing sheets. Each communal latrine includes two separate latrine stations and, to promote hygiene and access to clean water, each communal latrine was built with a washing station located to the side with four water faucets. The water faucets are fed by a clean water supply – each latrine includes a water tower- and a water system was installed to provide clean water and dispose of dirty water and waste properly through a septic system. Each latrine is also connected to an electrical system to provide night-time lighting. The latrine plans and drawings were designed internally by one of CHF’s Construction Managers....

Community Benefit: Each of these latrines is located on mosque grounds, maximizing potential use and ensuring maintenance. Each latrine’s location follows sphere minimum energy standards, which state that communal latrines should be no further than 50 meters from the dwellings of primary users. Approximately 20 households qualify as primary users for each latrine. Those who pray at the mosque but do not live close enough to qualify as primary users, up to 100 households, may also use the latrine, thereby increasing its communal benefit. Each latrine unit could have approximately 200 households. This project complimented CHF’s other WASH activities (from other funding sources). This project also assisted CHF in maximizing the benefit of its other program activities (shelter and DRR) by providing its beneficiary communities with much needed communal latrines. The communal latrines made possible with the generous support made to CHF’s Earthquake Response efforts in Indonesia were an integral part of serving our beneficiary communities. The water and sanitation infrastructure of these communities was often completely destroyed, and many households had no access to sanitary washing and latrine facilities. These efforts are central to ensuring that sanitation for families is maintained. Lastly, the quality of these latrines will ensure that our beneficiary in Pariaman, Indonesia will continue to use CHF’s facilities well into the future."

Night lighting for safety at communal latrines
Night lighting for safety at communal latrines


A toilet under construction
A toilet under construction

Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. On February 29th he visited the sites of two public toilets being constructed by CHF-International in Padang-Pariaman. His “Postcard” from the visit:

Following the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra last fall, CHF-International did an Emergency Needs Assessment with affected communities. The biggest needs: shelter, followed by improved sanitation (i.e. latrines). CHF set out to provide 5,000 temporary shelters, and is ahead of their schedule in doing so. The toilets proved to be a bit trickier. Their main funder, in line with its emergency-assistance-only remit, could only fund basic pit latrines, but the communities said no one would use them. But the government has a law that NGOs cannot build permanent structures. So they struck a balance between community desires and legal constraints and decided to construct semi-permanent latrines with a fixed water supply.

While construction was just getting underway when I was there, the project seemed to be well conceived. CHF did a more in-depth water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) study and in discussions with the communities decided to do public toilets rather than installations at individual homes, as there is a tradition of public sanitation in this area. The community also decided to put them in central locations where people go anyway (both I visited were at mosques; others will be in markets). Obviously this increases convenience but another benefit is that there are already people in charge of (and with a vested interest in) keeping these places clean. The design includes an area to wash feet as well as hands, which should be particularly appreciated at the mosque where people are required to do wudu before entering. The communities are to form Sanitation Committees in charge of upkeep.

I spoke with Buyung, the foreman of the construction team at one of the sites, who lives in a neighboring village. He said in this community and in his people typically use the river as a toilet, as few have latrines in their home. He thought people would use the latrines because they were closer than the river (which is about a kilometer away).

GlobalGiving funds are often pooled with money from other sources when an organization carries out its projects. The money CHF-International received from you donors is the sole funding for these five public latrines, so you can take special pride in knowing that each one of your donations was a significant part of helping to bring improved sanitation to a community impacted by this powerful earthquake.

Colin with the timber frame of another toilet
Colin with the timber frame of another toilet
The current option. Not very inviting.
The current option. Not very inviting.

In response to the September 30th, 2009, 7.6-magnitude earthquake that struck 30 miles northwest of the Indonesian city of Padang, CHF International quickly began implementation of a transitional shelter program in several earthquake affected communities. The Building Indonesian Livelihoods and Transitional Shelter (BUILT) program, funded by USAID/OFDA, is providing 5,000 households in areas in Padang Pariaman with transitional shelter kits while supporting community recovery with initiatives in disaster risk reduction, water and sanitation, economic recovery, and infrastructure rehabilitation. CHF is also building the capacity of communities to recover quickly and strengthen both household and community preparedness for future disasters. At the center of this work is the importance of the time and effort invested by local volunteers.

Community contribution and investment is a pillar of the BUILT program, demonstrated by the large number of student and professional volunteers who work alongside CHF teams to select beneficiaries, provide technical assistance to shelter recipients, provide training and awareness for sanitation and disaster awareness issues, and conduct monitoring and evaluation. CHF’s volunteer corps currently consists of nearly 30 volunteers from the Engineering Department at Andalas University, and from independent community members in Pariaman town. Additionally, CHF has recently entered into a new partnership with the Civil Engineering and Planning Department at the University of Bung Hatta in Padang, to provide additional volunteers for disaster risk reduction awareness. Mr. Ir. Hendri Warman, the Dean of Civil Engineering and Planning at Bung Hatta, expressed support for the BUILT program. “This partnership will help communities to build back better. Our work with CHF is part of our commitment as an academic institution to encourage community resilience after disasters. We are happy to have this partnership because we believe that CHF International has a lot experience working with the community, and this can be a model for our future activities in earthquake recovery.”

Volunteers participate in an orientation and training session, and receive a volunteer kit for field work to prepare them for interactions with the community. They are a critical element of BUILT activities, and CHF greatly values the services and time provided by the dedicated volunteer corps. “My volunteers are the frontline of outreach and mobilization, and we couldn’t accomplish our goals without them,” says Media Firzamon, CHF’s Outreach Manager for the BUILT program. Likewise, the volunteers display a strong sense of dedication to recovery in Pariaman. Faisal Ferara, volunteering with CHF’s construction team to train and assist shelter beneficiaries, says, “I want to help because this is my hometown area, and I want to support my people.” Firzamon adds, “For those of us from the earthquake affected areas, we are motivated by a moral responsibility to assist our greater community.”

Chartis Indonesia, a subsidiary of a global leader in property-casualty and general insurance, is supporting CHF volunteers by donating a generous insurance policy to CHF’s field-based volunteers and casual laborers for the BUILT program. Peter Meyer, President Commissioner of Chartis Indonesia, suggests that the insurance policy donation follows in the spirit of solidarity with recovery programs for emergency affected populations throughout Indonesia "In Indonesia, we have actively supported reconstruction efforts during Tsunami in Aceh and the 2007 Earthquake in Yogyakarta." The policy protects volunteers and laborers who are exposed to injury from tools, rural roads, and other construction risks. Chartis’ insurance coverage protects over 70 individuals with a comprehensive Accidental, Death, and Disablement policy, 24 hours a day for six months. The coverage provides over $20,000 of insurance protection per person. Chartis Indonesia 's President Director, Michael Blakeway said, "Chartis Indonesia is always committed to becoming a socially responsible company. We have been working together with Non-Government Organizations, including CHF International, to help support communities impacted by natural disasters."

Volunteers will remain an integral component of CHF’s community relief and recovery approach, not just in support of BUILT program activities, but as a means of encouraging community support and social commitment. Mory, a community outreach volunteer says, “As a BUILT volunteer, I feel proud to help people and to be part of a dedicated team of people giving their own time in the spirit of service.”

Yesterday we went to the field to discuss our temporary shelter design with community members. We conducted a few focus groups and asked them to draw their ideal floor plan in the wet mud. The ground became a drawing board and discussion piece for the participants, who told us exactly how they arrange their houses. We soon realized the significance of this arrangement.

The ethnic group living here in West Sumatra province is called Minang, and today we attended a presentation on their culture. The presentation, given by an expert on traditional architecture, explained the structure of the “big house,” the matriarchal home in traditional Minang culture. The Big House structure was built from wood and thatch, and the floor plan and column layout of the building all had spiritual significance. The direction of the house always pointed to the mountains, the spiritual home of traditional Minang. What we saw presented looked very familiar from our community discussions the day before. While the Minang culture has certainly changed and modernized, aspects of the old endure even through natural disasters such as an earthquake.

After a trauma such as a natural disaster, there really is a comfort in a place you’ve known before. Almost a month after the earthquake, we hear many reports that families are still living their collapsed or partially collapsed houses during the day even though they sleep in a makeshift shelter at night for fear of being crushed in a midnight earthquake. It is the small things, such as a familiar layout, that make a structure a home. We will continue to ensure that our reconstruction efforts take these traditional sensibilities into account.

Today we met two people who had just returned from a medical assessment where they visited some of the most remote areas of Padang Pariaman District. They looked half in shock and were approaching NGOs all over the Governor's Residence to try and find anyone who was planning to work in the devastated areas they'd assessed. The area they visited sits on what used to be the ridge of a mountain. When the earthquake started the land on one side of the ridge sunk and slid over dozens of meters and took with it many houses and lives.

As the earth shook on September 30th in that village families ran out of their houses, fearing the structure would collapse. People ran in all directions. The survivors explained that family members who ran out the door to the left survived as they were on the piece of the ridge which remains today. People who rushed out the door and ran to the right disappeared in the landslide. Most of those who ran to the right have not been seen since the quake. The cliff like area which remains has been almost impossible for survivors to scale and find their loved ones. Our new friends reported that families with houses standing on the other remaining side of the ridge have taken in orphans and families who have lost everything.

Pockets of un-reached communities remain even today here in West Sumatra. Emergency aid starts to trickle into places like this village because roads have been completely destroyed and only now, in the past days, are being dug out enough for motorcycles to pass in the most remote areas. Every day it feels like we are getting to know the full scale of the situation and still pressing on everyone's mind is what will happen when the rains come. It has been a fairly dry rainy-season thus far but everyone knows that the downpours-to-come will mean greater loss of life if proper transitional shelters are not built soon. The people of Padang Pariaman wait as we try and find resources to help them. My heart went out to the people who went right and the people who went left today. This disaster is far from over and after hearing this story I think we should go find out what we can do for them and the rest of our team agrees.

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Project Leader

Erin Mote

Manager of Resource Development
Silver Spring , MD United States

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