Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions: Indonesia is repeatedly hit by natural disasters. In addition, the island state sinks into plastic waste. Help fights the plastic pollution: We protect the environment and at the same time create jobs and perspectives for the local people.
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Tsunamis and plastic pollution
Due to the special geographical location on the Pacific ring of fire, the earth in Indonesia quakes almost daily. Many of the earthquakes are hardly noticeable for humans. However, there are always catastrophic exceptions, usually followed by devastating tsunamis.
This was the case on September 28, 2018, when our project region Sulawesi was shaken by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4. More than 4,000 people lost their lives in the catastrophe, another 211,000 became homeless.
In addition to the constant natural disasters, the island state faces another problem: plastic pollution. After China, Indonesia ranks second on the list of the largest producers of plastic waste. Plastic waste is not recycled, but ends up in huge dumps.
However, plastic does not rot, it only breaks down into small pieces - microplastics. Due to the lack of recycling systems and the floods of the tsunamis, plastic ends up in the sea and causes great damage. Every year in Indonesia about 3.22 million tons of plastic waste are disposed of uncontrolled, of which about one third ends up in the oceans.
Emergency aid after natural disaster
Together with our local partner organization, we were immediately on site after the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami to provide emergency aid. First we provided the affected people with hygiene articles, food and blankets. Because numerous roads were destroyed by the disaster, many people in Sulawesi were cut off from the outside world.
This resulted mainly in gaps in health care, which is one of the reasons why the "Mobile Clinic" was created. In this way doctors came to the people's homes who could not go to hospital. Especially children and pregnant women received urgently needed medical care this way.
Stop the plastic flood: From waste collection to recycling
After the water masses of the tsunami had drained off, the plastic problem in Sulawesi became even more obvious. Plastic carpets spread through the landscape and the region's waste system was destroyed. Since many people had lost not only their homes but also their jobs, Help and the partner organization developed a holistic strategy to help people and the environment at the same time.
We founded so-called "Bank Sampah", waste banks where the inhabitants can exchange their plastic waste for a small amount of money. The collected waste is resold and recycled. These waste banks have already created 78 jobs.
In addition, we sensitize the public, especially schools, to plastic pollution and inform about recycling measures and plastic alternatives, such as bamboo straws or cloth bags. We work together with local school and environmental authorities and reach even more people through social media campaigns.
- In 2018 the earth in Indonesia shook more than 11,000 times, but most earthquakes were not felt
- More than 211,000 people lost their homes in the earthquake and tsunami of 2018
- 4,340 people died, over 14,000 were injured
- Every year, around 3.22 million tons of plastic waste are disposed of uncontrolled
- The city of Palu produces 1,026 cubic meters of garbage every day
- 202 families were provided with emergency aid packages after the tsunami
- Through the mobile clinic, 1,495 people received access to health care
- After the tsunami, we provided hygiene education in 17 schools
- Over 7,000 school children have already been informed about plastic pollution and recycling measures
- Around 100,000 people have already been informed about the plastic problem via the online campaign
- 50 local restaurants, cafes and stores have already reduced the use of plastic straws and plastic bags
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