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"Let's get back to our routine"

Listening to children who were affected by the Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami

Empatika was engaged by Yayasan Sayangi Tunas Cilik (YSTC), UNICEF, Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (YPII), and Wahana Visi Indonesia (WVI) as part of their relief assistance and recovery efforts in Central Sulawesi to consult with children and caregivers affected by the Central Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami. The findings are expected to help influence the agencies’ child centered response planning on how to support the recovery phase and people’s long-term needs by optimising children’s resilience and community coping strategies.

This study was conducted using participatory focus group discussions (pFGDs) in two communities in each of three affected most affected districts (Palu, Donggala and Sigi), involving a total of 244 primary school-age and secondary school-age children. We also had opportunistic interactions with pregnant women and caregivers of small children to include their perspectives. Our approach to pFGDs intentionally moves away from the traditional FGD question-and-answer format to a more participatory form where interactive hands-on exercises, visuals, photos, drawings, written, or drama-based elements are used to seed discussion to gain insights into the perspectives of study participants.

The six key messages children shared are that:

  • They want a sense of normalcy restored as soon as possible - routines that fill the day and make them feel positive. This means proper school hours and lessons (albeit in temporary locations), provision of play and ‘hanging out’ space, and structured activities (younger children) or structured opportunities to help others and contribute to the recovery efforts.

  • They feel grateful to have survived and described stronger empathy, altruism and thoughtfulness toward others than before the earthquake.

  • They feel fearful and emotional at times but there seems to be limited understanding and awareness about appropriate recovery activities for children.

  • They need assurances that lessons are learned about the location and construction materials used in housing and facilities in the future.

  • They are eating less quantity and less diversity of food.

  • Adolescents receive less relief and support than primary-age children.


Palu, Donggala and Sigi


participatory focus group discussions (pFGDs)


Primary school-age and secondary school-age children

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