Indonesia: Local partner helping to restore Nias island - Economy in Ruins

News and Press Release
Originally published
The earthquake on the island of Nias, Indonesia, occurred on March 28, three months after the massive December 26 earthquake and tsunami. Working with one of our local partners, Medan Peduli, World Relief supported emergency food distribution after the first quake. Further distributions of food, mosquito nets, and tarps for temporary schools, are being planned. Malaria and dengue fever are prevalent on Nias, so the distribution of mosquito nets along with some training about disease prevention, detection and treatment will have long-term impact.

A major challenge will be restoring the local export economy, which is not currently functioning. Many of the buyers of copra (coconut oil), chocolate, and other indigenous crafts and material resources were killed because they lived in cities where large cement buildings collapsed during the March earthquake. The island's infrastructure was also severely damaged in the quake and transportation has been disrupted. In places where people need help the most, the roads are only passable by motorcycle. Agricultural items that would normally be sold in order to sustain families are rotting; many people no longer have the money needed to purchase sustenance.

It will take several years for the economy to recover, and it will only do so with outside investment. The death of the buyers and the destruction of storage facilities, harbors, and homes will prolong the economic recovery. In order to rebuild homes and replace possessions, the people need their livelihoods restored. Fishermen need boats and equipment to replace those lost in the tsunami. The agriculture economy is export-based, but there is opportunity for farmers to learn and practice better agriculture practices for chocolate and rubber, for the raising of pigs and chickens in order to increase production and income. Credit is also needed for the development of small industries in the rural region. World Relief, working with local partners, will be able to increase the income of families through the development of management, agriculture and micro-enterprise skills.