Saturday, December 20, 2014

The long-term benefits of Building Back Better

Students carry  a victim during an earthquake drill at Muhammadiyah 1 Primary school in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. © UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Achmadi

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, October 2014 - Picture this: It’s a Sunday morning in late December in Banda Aceh. You’re awaken by a strong earthquake early in the morning and you know something is wrong.

Soon, you’re running away from the forceful tsunami water that flattens almost everything in its wake. You’ve lost sight of family members, and your only thought is saving your life by getting to higher ground. You reach the top of a hill, along with others, some of whom have been injured in the scramble to escape the water.

Looking down at the town of Banda Aceh below you, you see a picture of devastation. Trees, houses and roads have been washed away. Debris is piled everywhere – sheet metal, rubble, branches….and bodies. You’ve lost everything and you have no idea if or how your family members have survived. All infrastructure is gone. And as your mind tries to come to terms with what has just happened, it suddenly occurs to you – I’ve survived this disaster, but what am I going to drink, eat? Where am I going to sleep?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Surviving the tsunami, creating a better future

17-weeks pregnant and carrying her three-year-old daughter at the time, Rosna credited her survival to a TV programme about tsunami that made her aware of what was coming after the powerful earthquake. © UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Achmadi

JANTHO, Indonesia, October 2014 - Rosna was saved from the tsunami by her television. She had seen a nature programme about earthquakes and volcanoes and seismic activity. When she felt the large quake that preceded and caused the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26th December 2004, she suspected what might be about to happen.

17 weeks pregnant with her second child at the time, she ran from her house in Banda Aceh, carrying her three-year-old daughter Cut Rachmina with her. Although caught up in the water, she managed to reach higher ground without injury and was eventually reunited with her husband Johansyah, who had also managed to escape.

The disaster wiped out most of Banda Aceh, but Rosna’s family was extremely lucky to survive. Their home, however, had been destroyed. They had no water, no food and could not save any of their possessions. In the space of a few hours they had gone from house owners to IDPs – internally displaced people. A makeshift tent became their home.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The emergency volunteers who stayed to build a community

Elvi Zaharah Siregar teaches at the state vocational school SMK Negeri 1 in Calang, Aceh Jaya. Ten years ago, she was among the first batch of volunteer teachers sent to Aceh after the tsunami. © UNICEF Indonesia / 2014 / Achmadi.  

CALANG, Indonesia, October 2014 – Dian Permata Sari was just six years old when the Indian Ocean tsunami destroyed her home town of Calang, around 100 kilometers south of Banda Aceh on Indonesia’s Sumatra island.

After the huge earthquake on the morning of the 26th December 2004, Dian’s family saw the seawater receding. They managed to run to the hills before the tsunami hit the shore. The family stayed away from the coast for two days.

“When we came back, all the buildings were destroyed, the trees had been brought down and there were bodies and garbage everywhere,” says Dian, now a serious and articulate 16-year-old girl.


Just 700 kilometres away in North Sumatra’s capital city of Medan, Elvi Zahara Siregar also felt the earthquake.

As a newly qualified teacher, the 26-year-old was still living with her parents at the time. 

Elvi remembers that day clearly – the earthquake that caused the devastating tsunami in Aceh shook her house in Medan so violently, she couldn’t stand up for five minutes and water in her parents’ aquarium kept splashing over the sides and onto the floor.

Over the following days, she watched television news reports of the havoc that had been wreaked in Aceh province.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tsunami in Aceh 10 Years On

© UNICEF Indonesia / 2005 / Josh Estey

On 26 December 2014, it will be exactly ten years since the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami hit Indonesia, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and a number of other countries. At least 230,000 people were killed, hundreds of thousands lost their homes and all their belongings, and vast coastlines were completely wiped out.

In worst hit Aceh, Indonesia’s westernmost province, the giant waves killed 170,000 people and left 500,000 homeless. The disaster also caused immense social, economic, and environmental devastation to areas that were already poor, severely damaging existing institutions and washing away human resources, the basis of the province’s sustainable development.

Within 48 hours, UNICEF arrived in Aceh and began the largest emergency operation in its history aiming to ensure that no child would die in the aftermath of the catastrophe by organizing mass immunization campaigns and restoring water supply and sanitation.

Monday, November 24, 2014

UNICEF Indonesia launches Tinju Tinja Campaign to knock out open defecation

Melanie Subono and Aidan Cronin launches the Tinju Tinja campaign in Jakarta during World Toilet Day (19/11/2014)

JAKARTA 24 November 2014 – UNICEF Indonesia, and local rock star and humanitarian activist Melanie Subono are taking the fight against open defecation to the boxing ring through a multi-media campaign called Tinju Tinja (“Punch the Poo”), launched on World Toilet Day.

Largely conducted on social media, this campaign aims to inform and raise awareness about the health implications of such practice, as well as creating a sense of urgency to end open defecation in Indonesia in a new, innovative way. 

During the launch UNICEF revealed that, based on the Joint Monitoring Program report (2014), published by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), 55 million people in Indonesia practice open defecation, making it the second highest number in the world after India.