Advent 4

Share Safe Water, Save Lives

Tanti will never forget the day a magnitude 7.5 earthquake knocked down her home in Palu, a city in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The sixteen year old says, “I remember hugging my mum and running from our house,” but it was only the beginning.  After the earthquake came liquefaction and tsunami.  The town’s water supply and sewage system were destroyed.

Before the quake, Tanti had spent her days in school or studying but now her job became the family’s water carrier.  Her aunt who lived in a village further down the hill had a well, so in the first days after the quake she collected its water.   She was not the only one.  With no other water available and heavy demand, the well was soon dry.

Now she had to go further afield.  Before the sun rose in the sky, she would walk one kilometre to the nearest water point to fill two five litre jerry cans with water.  She would make this journey one or two more times each day so her family had water for drinking, cooking and washing.

In six months the family had water ten metres from their tent thanks to ACT Alliance Indonesia (Action by Churches Together of which CWS is a member), giving Tanti time to go to school, study and help her mother sell fish.

“I’m really happy.  I can wake up a little later and not feel too tired at school,” she adds.

Although the earthquake and tsunami struck on 28 September 2018, relief efforts continue more than a year later.  Around 57,000 people remain in tents, many without safe water or latrines.

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We respond in Emergencies

After a natural disaster and in conflict situations, people need safe water and good sanitation.  Local partners are quick to respond as they know their communities well and how best to help.  Many have made plans and undertaken training in their communities.  Others like Ama Takiloa in Tonga encourage people to grow the drought resistant taro that stays fresh for longer after cyclones.

In an emergency CWS can rely on ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) to mobilise help and save lives.  Together this alliance of 156 churches and faith-based organisations in over 120 countries has experience and local networks to respond and work with local communities in ways that put beneficiaries at the centre.  They work in cooperation with others, where appropriate with governments and United Nations agencies to meet their immediate food needs, distribute bedding, utensils and other non-food items, assist with shelter in the short term and reconstruction later on, provide medicines, medical expertise and psychosocial care, and the water, sanitation and hygiene kits and training.  Many times they will support communities with education and other support until they can rebuild homes and livelihoods.

Preparing in case of a disaster is an important part of the work CWS partners and ACT Alliance members do.  Communities need to know what to do and how to help each other.  Regional bodies and national governments need effective policies and procedures to respond in such situations.

ACT Alliance is a signatory to the highest humanitarian codes and standards, including the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief.  It is committed to the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response.

ACT Alliance is a certified member and CWS is an associate member of the CHS Alliance (Core Humanitarian Standard), making sure organisations are accountable to the people they serve and therefore making sure aid is of a high standard and more effective.

ACT Alliance Indonesia

Church World Service Asia, a member of ACT Alliance Indonesia, built gravity-fed piped systems for five villages and boreholes for another five replacing the work of 15 tankers that delivered water to more than 20,000 people a day at the peak.  Early on they constructed 26 public toilets and are now working with 272 families to install family toilets.  They have assisted with emergency shelter, organised local builders and constructed transitional homes as well as provided hygiene training.  Through local organisations, they deliver 2,335 hygiene kits for 2,335 families.  Each kit contained10 soap bars weighing 250 grams each, five toothbrushes, two tubes of adult or child toothpaste that each weighed 190 grams, three 10-packs of sanitary pads, four 170 ml bottles of shampoo, four large bath towels, two lidded buckets for water collection/storage, two 1.5 litre water dippers, two 1 kg. bags of detergent, and one 15-litre lidded trash can.

Other members have delivered medical services from day one, assisted with reconstruction of homes and livelihoods.  Part of the community, they are working to give people the best support they can to recover.

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