The old small house, only 8 x 12 meter in dimension, is densely occupied by 67 families with 258 people. All of them sleep on mattresses without any blanket to brave the cold at night; counting also the elderly, the expectants, the babies and toddlers. On Tuesday night (11/1), the group decides to move to another evacuation post, whereas, only two days earlier they have moved from a mosque as temporary shelter.

They are people from Gebayan hamlet who are displaced from their original village in Sirahan, situated in Salam sub-district (Central Java province). Their houses are near the riverbank of “Kali Putih[1]” and are well-known as the ancient flood plain. After the eruption of Merapi volcano in November 2011, the immense volcanic material, so-called lahar[2], flows through this river carried away by rain water from the upstream. Their houses are still intact, but the unfortunate proximity with the flood plain and the fact that 7 other hamlets have been eroded in earlier event have forced them to evacuate. Ever since the lahar devastated the riverbank area on 9 January 2011, until the relocation in the old small house in Tersan Gede, the people do not receive any considerable information or direction from the government to immediately evacuate.

The shelter in Tersan Gede is below the standard of humanitarian relief; there is only one latrine to accommodate all, limited electric lighting during night, and leaks in the roof have compelled them to sleep very close together so that they cannot move during the rainy day. Even with this inadequacy they choose to stay, since the relocation site prepared by the government has been full and cannot accommodate the displaced people from Gebayan hamlet. This affects greatly to the living and health conditions of the people, especially those vulnerable groups. In response to the growing concerns, YEU delivers mobile clinic on Wednesday (12/1).

Within two weeks in Tersan Gede shelter, the people have not heard any clear plan from the government upon proper evacuation site. Therefore, they move with their own initiative to spacious field situated 1 kilometre far from Tersan Gede shelter, with the aim at establishing a better temporary shelter. At present, they stay in tents for each family.

The shelter condition is improving, but the provision on clean water and proper sanitation should be met without delay. The affected community is in collaboration with YEU in the issue; both sides agree to collaborate in building 10 temporary latrines and 1 water tank. YEU supports the materials for construction, while the community prepares the workers, working tools and several local materials like bamboo. The men work for the latrines construction, while the women prepare the meals. The role of the women is not limited in preparing the meals; furthermore they are very enthusiastic about sharing their views on shelter management. Their perspectives and ideas on establishing regulation in the camps, maintaining safety for all, creating easy access for all, about hygiene and others, contribute greatly on the wellness of the shelter; those details are often neglected by men due to focus on latrines construction.  

At the moment, they stay in tents and struggle with the heat during the day and cold at night. But, this circumstance does not prove to obliterate their will to “rebuild” their life again after the devastation. The fact that they are forced to move from the original hamlet has cost them a lot; not only did they have to leave their earnings, but also impeded the social networking and regular custom like pengajian[3], gotong-royong[4] and other community meetings. But, they successfully regain balance in the temporary shelter through performing those social networking and custom. The chief of neighbouring unit states, “Even though we live in tents and without any assurance from the government, we need to maintain the spirit to continue living and thriving”. (RAH/AMT)

 œ

[1] “Kali Putih” he local name for White River.

[2] A lahar is a type of mudflow or debris flow composed of pyroclastic material, rocky debris, and water. The material flow down from a volcano, typically along river valley. The term is shortened version of “berlahar” which originated in the Javanese language of Indonesia. (Wikipedia)

[3] Regular gathering to recite the Koran.

[4] Mutual cooperation among community members.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” (Lao Tze)


About oaseindisasters

Oase in Disaster - Yakkum Emergency Unit This blog is official blog of Yakkum Emergency Unit Member of ACT Alliance and Member of Humanitarian Forum of Indonesia. The contents of this blog covers the YEU's activities related to emergency responds activities in Indonesia. Currently, we are working in emergency respon in three different areas; to respond Wasior flash-flood affected people in Manokwari, West Papua, tsunami-Mentawai affected people in Mentawai, West Sumatera, and Merapi Volcano Eruption in Central Java and Yogyakarta. At the national level, we are coordinating within the network of Humanitarian Forum of Indonesia (HFI) and at the International level we're coordinating with Global Network for Disaster Reduction and ACT Alliance. Email: Follow us in twitter @yeu2001
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  1. shinta says:

    hard to believe that the impact of this eruption goes far beyond the eruption itself. Some experts said they calculated the volcano’s material will still remain as hazard within 3 years! A well preparedness plan alongside with the rehabilitation work have to be done in effective colllaboration and well supported by Government.

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