LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF (LWR) began working in Indonesia following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, addressing both emergency and long term development needs. Indonesia remains one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, with millions of people affected annually by earthquakes, landslides, floods and tsunamis. Poor, rural communities have few resources to prepare for or mitigate the effects of these hazards and even fewer resources to recover. Recognizing that effective development helps mitigate the impact of such hazards, LWR works to build community resilience through improving livelihoods, food security, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction. LWR currently works in the provinces of Aceh, North Sumatra and Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT).
LWR promotes smallholder farmer participation in agricultural value chains as an essential step towards increased income generation and food security. LWR’s agriculture value chain approach increases access to inputs and markets, leverages community assets and builds farmers’ technical capacity to generate higher return from agricultural products. In Indonesia, LWR fosters the establishment of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in rural communities to bring farmers together to increase crop productivity, quality and post-harvest processing and storage. LWR promotes new agricultural methods and provides field trainings, tools and technology to increase knowledge, skills, and yields from crops like cocoa and corn. SHGs facilitate farmer access to credit, provide entrée to more lucrative markets and support farmers to gain better prices than selling individually would. LWR strengthens SHG capacity by supporting business planning, building leadership and management skills and providing skills on organizational governance and networking to ensure SHG sustainability.
To support the management of larger livelihood enterprises, LWR provides farmers valuable skills in literacy and financial management, in areas where many have never had the opportunity to access formal education. To address gender imbalances in these business ventures, LWR encourages women’s group savings and loan activities to support investment in small-business activities such as rice milling and corn processing.
Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction
Indonesia is already experiencing the effects of climate change. For Indonesian farmers, there is an urgent need to develop and use types of crop varieties that are resistant to abiotic (climate) stresses such as drought, erratic climate and flooding, as well as pests and disease resulting from the region’s higher temperatures. To address this need, LWR incorporates climate change adaptation in all of our projects in Indonesia. For example, LWR has worked with local partners and farmers to improve agro-water management systems and to increase crop production and pest/disease resilience through climate smart agriculture methods. Through generous support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), LWR has also worked with local communities to improve sustainable land use and mitigate the impact of climate change in Sumatra by rehabilitating 400 hectares of mangrove forests, establishing community-based natural resource management and disaster risk reduction plans, and promoting climate-friendly livelihoods. LWR programs have also focused on increasing alternative energy source capacity, like hydropower, to reduce community reliance on firewood or diesel generators.
Indonesia is especially vulnerable to natural disasters such as severe storms, tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanoes, and human-made disasters such as fires (from slash and burn agriculture practices). To reduce the risk and impact of these disasters, LWR works with village infrastructure, including schools, government offices and health facilities, to develop disaster risk management plans that assess and rank hazards and vulnerabilities and contain action plans to reduce vulnerability. LWR uses local networks to share best practices in disaster risk reduction and inform policy development as a means to advance preparedness practice and policy , build resilience and empower communities to respond to disasters in coordinated and organized ways. As with all of our work, LWR engages directly with local populations at each step in this process, so that communities are leading their own efforts to reduce vulnerability.
At the time of an emergency, LWR assesses community needs as well as our partners’ capacity to address those needs, and responds accordingly. Emergency response programs may include food, water or non-food item provision, shelter construction and early livelihood recovery. LWR is committed to international standards of quality and accountability in emergency operations and believes strongly that those affected by disasters have a right to life with dignity, the right to receive humanitarian assistance, and the right to protection and security, in line with the Humanitarian Charter.