Damage in sigi district

Much has been made of the damage to Palu city as a result of the Sept 28 2018 earthquake, tsunami and liquefaction induced debris flows, but less mention is made of impacts in surrounding districts. While on a recent visit to Palu we visited Sigi district which was, and still is, very badly affected.

Standing on the margins of the liquefaction induced debris flow in Sigi district. The flow just stopping short of these houses.

Sigi district is more rural than Palu and provides a lot of the food (rice and other crops, plus eggs and poultry) for Palu. The earthquakes changed the drainage patterns, ruined irrigation channels and the debris flows have completely ruined arable land.

Dry main irrigation channel which supplied the rice paddies with water prior to the earthquake.
Water from a bore gushes out providing water for the household as well as small irrigation channels nearby.

Gadjah Mada University (UGM) is supporting farmers in Jono Oge village in Sigi by helping with alternative access to water for irrigation, and providing irrigation equipment and seeds for planting. The water level is only 3-4 metres below the surface and boreholes are easily dug. Portable pumps are moved around the different boreholes.

A second bore on this farmers land will provide water to newly ploughed and planted fields. In the rear are earthquake damaged poultry sheds (complete with fallen coconut palm).
Jono Oge village. This site and the immediate surrounding area once contained around 126 families. The 3m high debris deposit has since been cleared but evidence of the destruction remains. The coconut palms in the distance are 1km from their original location upstream.
Temporary housing in Jono Oge village. The land the housing is on was originally rice paddies. The owner has loaned the land temporarily (2 years) to the local government for the housing after which time permanent housing will hopefully have been built nearby. With the irrigation channels damaged and drained, there is no work for the local people and no alternative livelihoods.

Progress is painfully slow with the provision of permanent housing, livelihoods, schools and water for irrigation. Without the latter, the locals have no opportunity to replant crops. Water is currently not being diverted from the nearby river as the irrigation channels are damaged and there is concern that they contributed to the cause of the liquefaction induced debris flow in the first place.

Thanks to UGM for their initiative in Jono Oge village which is bringing water back to one of the villages in Sigi. Here’s hoping more help comes their way soon.

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