Indonesia: Disaster Relief and Environmental Protection on Sulawesi

Earthquakes and tsunamis are not unusual in Indonesia. Due to its location on a tectonic fault line, the island state is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world. The Indonesian Council of Churches is actively involved in disaster prevention and environmental protection.

In September 2018, a devastating earthquake hit Sulawesi. It took the island's inhabitants completely by surprise. Thousands died in the rubble of their homes, sank into the ground or drowned in the tsunami that followed the earthquake. An even greater number of people lost all their belongings. Countless public buildings were also destroyed, such as churches, schools and hospitals. Many of the survivors are still deeply traumatised today.  

Indonesia lies along a particularly active seismic zone called the Pacific Ring of Fire. The occurrence of earthquakes and tsunamis in this region is practically inevitable. One thing that can be changed is the way people deal with such natural disasters. On the other hand, other disasters, such as droughts, forest fires, crop failures are the direct result of man-made climate change and the gradual destruction of the environment. A lack of awareness and knowledge about ecological interrelationships further aggravates the situation.

Prevention and education
The Indonesian Council of Churches, to which the Indonesian EMS member churches also belong, focuses specifically on prevention and education. In the regions of Sulawesi that are particularly affected, 155 representatives of different religions and cultures are currently in training on disaster prevention and environmental protection. They will then pass on this knowledge to the local people. In addition, the churches are developing concepts on how to minimise the impact of natural disasters. For example, participants in the training courses are instructed in the relationships between environmental degradation and the occurrence of natural disasters.


Off the coast of Indonesia lies the Pacific Ring of Fire. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common here.

Preparations for disasters

Once an emergency has occurred, it is usually too late to take any precautionary measures or develop a crisis concept. Disaster relief workers simply must respond immediately. An interfaith working group is developing crisis and disaster plans as well as training materials to help minimise the negative impacts of a disaster so that people are more prepared. This knowledge can be used, for example, to train volunteer disaster relief teams on site. The important thing here is that aid is always provided to the entire population, regardless of religion or church affiliation.

Project goals

The aim of the project is to sensitise the population in the regions of Sulawesi particularly affected by natural disasters about the relationships between environmental destruction and the occurrence of natural disasters and to train them in the best way to respond during and after natural disasters. The aim is to make the region more resilient to natural disasters in the long term by promoting a more environment-friendly behaviour.

Project work

The Indonesian Council of Churches commissions experts to pass on their knowledge on disaster prevention and management to 155 representatives of different religions and cultures in the vulnerable regions of Sulawesi. This creates local teams of experts for the various disaster scenarios. The course participants act as multipliers in their own communities. This helps to develop skills at local level to carry out active environmental protection and organise the appropriate response in the event of a disaster.

Project partner

The PGI-W Sulselbara is one of two regional synods of the Indonesian Council of Churches in Indonesia (PGI). When translated, the name means the "Indonesian Council of Churches - South and West Sulawesi Section". It is based in Makassar, the island capital. The PGI-W is the ecumenical umbrella organisation of the Protestant churches in South and West Sulawesi, to which our member churches GKSS, GT, GTM, GPIL and GKSB belong. It mainly carries out educational work for certain groups of these churches. The PGI-W undertakes interfaith dialogue with the Muslim communities in the region on behalf of the churches.

We are pleased to hear that you are interested in this project. If you have any general questions, please use the contact form below. We are also happy to help you personally if you have any questions or require further information – by phone or by E-mail.


Djoko P. A. Wibowo

Liaison Secretary Indonesia

+49 711 636 78 -36

Angelika Jung

Head of Unit Fundraising

+49 711 636 78 -63

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