Indonesia earthquake and tsunami

Discuss the situation, what people’s needs are and the work being done to help.

An aid worker looks at the damage following the tsunami
11 - 16
Lesson plan
PSHE, Tutor time, Geography
Disasters and emergencies, Newsthink

On Friday 28 September 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami in Indonesia.

Waves of up to 6 metres hit the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi, leaving over 1,700 people dead, over 60,000 displaced from their homes and thousands more injured or missing.

Buildings were flattened and people left homeless or scared to return to their homes for fear of further collapses. Rescue efforts were underway quickly, but they were hampered by power cuts and by mudslides blocking main roads.

Immediately following the disaster, the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said there were nearly 200,000 people in urgent need of assistance, about a quarter of them are children.

In this discussion and photo activity, learners will review what has happened and will explore the humanitarian work being done to help. They will also consider people’s needs immediately after a disaster and in the long term, and consider how to apply resilience-building to their own lives.

As some learners may find this topic upsetting, please see our guidance on creating a safe, inclusive and supportive learning environment.

Learning objectives

Learners will:

  • develop empathy towards those affected
  • explore the concept of humanitarianism by considering the different types of humanitarian response to the earthquake and tsunami
  • consider what personal resilience is and relate this to their own experience
  • learn about coping techniques and how to build their own personal resilience.

Resource overview

  1. Review: what has happened?
    Learners use photos and a situation overview to review what has happened and who has been affected.
  2. Photo discussion: humanitarian response
    Looking at the photos, learners discuss what help is being provided to the people in Sulawesi.
  3. Kindness and helping others
    Learners think about the qualities of a volunteer and what drives people to help others.
  4. What do people need to recover?
    Consider the practical and emotional needs of people following a disaster in the short and long term.
  5. Building resilience
    Learners watch the video and think about coping skills and ways of building resilience, and apply this to their own lives.

This resource was written by Ruth Pope and published in October 2018. Image of a humanitarian aid worker © Indonesian Red Cross.