by Katey Swenson
Jun 1, 2013
Recently, The Guardian published an article about the deforestation in Indonesia. The article explains the crisis the Indonesian island of Sumatra is undergoing due to quickly disappearing forests. The impacts of natural disasters are greater on communities when forests are not there to act as a buffer between them; violence erupts over land conflicts; animal life diminishes to near extinction; and the available livelihoods for community members after deforestation tend to only further devastate the land.
Following a devastating tsunami in 2004, Lutheran World Relief began working in Indonesia to leave the land and the communities in better shape than before the disaster hit, and has been working to build more resilient communities in Asia through local partnerships for more than 4 decades.
In Sumatra, LWR has been working with local partners and USAID to rehabilitate mangroves to address the very issues the Guardian explained. Communities and technical experts ensure that mangrove rehabilitation is both appropriate and beneficial in those areas for the future.
Not only do mangrove forests act as a buffer for coastal communities when a natural disaster strikes, but mangroves’ massive root system helps in slowing down tidal water to protect against erosion. This protects communities during floods or massive storms on the coasts.
Part of this project identifies livelihoods that complement the reforestation of mangroves that can give people in these communities a real living wage to support their families. These include organic vegetable gardening, fish production, fruit harvesting and even food production from the mangroves themselves. Many women are involved in making tea from mangrove leaves that they can sell.
Thank you for your support for our work in Indonesia. So far with your help, this project has reached more than 8,600 people in 10 villages, but our work is not over. We are still working to create sustainable livelihoods and environments for people throughout Sumatra.