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What they are, and how we help

What is a Tsunami?

A tsunami is a series of waves caused by a rapid displacement of a body of water, like an ocean or lake. 

The waves are characterised by a very long wavelength and their amplitude is much smaller offshore. Triggers of a tsunami can be: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mass movements, meteorite impacts or underwater explosions.

How do Save the Children help children affected by tsunamis?

In general, when responding to a tsunami we will;


We will provide emergency shelters for those who have been displaced by the tsunami.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Distribute hygiene packs that contain sanitation items such as: soap, toothbrush, laundry detergent to help protect families against waterborne diseases like cholera.


Help repair families’ livelihoods. This could be by providing new, higher-quality equipment such as fishing boats, as well as cash grants to fishermen affected by the tsunami. 

Child Protection

Set up protection measures to help keep children safe (especially those separated from their parents). For example, we often set up Child Friendly Spaces, so children have a safe place to come and just be children. 

Indonesia Tsunami 2018

Fifth grader Azahra is back to school after the Palu earthquake

Fifth grader Azahra is now back in a Save the Children supported school after the Palu earthquake.

On 28 September 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia and triggered a tsunami. The effect was horrifying. Buildings collapsed, lives were lost, and huge waves swept away homes and vital infrastructure. Over 1.5 million people were affected, including at least 600,000 children. Families were exposed to the elements, without shelter or clean water. 

Save the Children was one of the first agencies to gain access to Sulawesi, and we were one of the only agencies working in the remote region of North Donggala, which was almost entirely cut off by the disaster.

We initially focused on rescuing people trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, reuniting separated children, and providing emergency water, shelter, and sanitation to families. We then moved to longer-term sustainable solutions, like building learning centres and delivering mental health and psychosocial support. 

We reached over 140,000 people, including over 70,000 children. We distributed shelter kits, hygiene kits and water kits to over 25,000 households, making sure children and their families had a roof over their heads. We set up 50 child-friendly spaces, giving children the opportunity to recover, play, and be children again. 

We reached over 9,000 children and adults with mental health and psychosocial support, and we established 26 temporary learning spaces, where children could access learning opportunities while their classrooms were rebuilt.