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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Sulawesi Earthquake: Officials now say the disaster was responsible for 5 years of poverty

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More than five years after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the coastline of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, the statistics released this week by the Indonesian government reveal yet another example of how the 2015 disaster has cost Indonesia dearly — over $10 billion by some estimates.

Most of the sum paid out was to villagers who had been displaced by the disaster. Their settlements in temporary tents were declared safe, according to the government, and granted eligibility for “state support.” Government compensation amounted to about $25 a person in some cases, and between a quarter and a third of the families received a monthly pension.

But the government, according to the report, has yet to turn most of the settlements into permanent houses or provide other support for tens of thousands of families left homeless.

The Sulawesi disaster in May 2015 was caused by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that triggered a tsunami and devastation across several islands in the East Indonesia archipelago.

The island of Sulawesi, where the disaster struck, has long been one of the most remote areas in Indonesia, but has experienced large-scale resettlement efforts for many years. The Sulawesi government even urged people living in the city of Donggala to move to the island’s remote highlands.

The problem on the day of the earthquake and tsunami was that the settlement provided was temporary, and there was no indication that it would be permanent.

Government compensation of about $25 a person to more than 130,000 people displaced by the Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami, or some 1.1 million people, is little compared to the region’s economic needs.

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