Pangandarang, 26th July 2006
Pangandarang is a small tourist area on the extreme north west coast of Java island, Indonesia . In what has been a succession of tragedies for the island nation, there was yet another earthquake (17 th July 2006) which triggered a largely unreported but deadly tsunami which wreaked havoc in 8 villages of the Ciamis Province .
On the evening of 25 th July J. P. Singh, Asia along with V J R Roy, his wife Sandra and two volunteers Salamt and Hery reached Pangandarang. Roy had earlier made a rapid needs assessment of the area on 21 st July as directed by J P Singh. Roy and his wife are part of an Indonesian foundation Victory Jaya Misi and have extensive contacts in the country and also within the Indonesian Church .
The tsunami had left behind a trail of over 600 dead, mostly very young children, women and the aged. Three foreign tourists also died. Unfortunately world media attention continues to stay focused on the Middle East crisis and the Pangandaran tragedy has moved out of both media and international focus.
Interactions over two days with the local government officials, affected community and their leaders revealed that the immediate needs for temporary shelter, medical care and food was being met by the government and local NGOs. The only other International NGO we met was UN's WFP. KHW hence was among the first few INGO to have reached Pangandaran.
In our discussions it was learnt that the most badly affected were the marine fishermen community, who lost not only their boats, nets and engines, but also their houses. Another group of people, who incidentally were part of the fishermen community, were the owners of small shops / kiosks on the sea shore, earning a meager living through sale of small items, tea, snacks, etc. to the tourists. All there shops and materials were washed away.
The more affluent hotel owners have also been badly hit. Entire cement and concrete buildings have been smashed or rendered useless. In many ways, even after the clearing / cleaning operations of the army and police, the area resembled a war zone.
A surprising factor of our interactions was that even so early after the tragedy the people wanted to get back with the business of their lives. As the most severely affected group the fishermen through the local Church made several requests, both verbally and in writing to KHW to assist them in replacing the livelihood assets that they had lost in the tsunami. Finally a joint meeting was held with the fishermen representatives, the local government officials, and fishermen cooperative society officials, all of whom jointly have requested KHW to help by providing boats, engines and nets. Total loss of boats is above 800 and this loss directly affects the livelihood and survival of 3200 families – approximately 16,000 individuals.
There has been much international criticism of the Indonesian government for not having warned the people inspite of having had a clearing warning of the tsunami. Also a clear lack of definite policy regarding permanent housing and disaster management even after the 2004 tsunami has compounded the suffering of the affected. Now the government seems to have awakened and while we were at Pangandaran several high flying visits were made by government officials and the Social Minister. Many promises have been made, but past experiences indicate that they will remain as such. Such an indifferent policy environment can be de-motivating for NGOs. However, we need to be strongly aware that there are people in need and NGOs need to focus on immediately addressing the needs even as they work towards encouraging the government to be more responsive, responsible and compassionate.
KHW already has some experience in livelihood restoration of fisherman from Tamilnadu, North India . Using this experience it can emerge as the first, and perhaps the only, INGO to immediately respond towards helping restore the lives of the fishermen of Pangadaran. In the long term KHW can develop as an organization specializing in livelihood restoration, post disaster.
[J. P. Singh]
Kinderhilfswerk Global Care
(From Pangandaran, Ciamis, Java , Indonesia)