Due to two successive crop failures this year, the Sumba Island of Eastern Indonesia is experiencing a severe food shortage. The first crop failure in January 2011 was due to excessive rains and the second crop failure of May and June was due to drought conditions when the rainy season ended four months earlier than usual.

World Renew Indonesia has targeted four villages (Napu, Wunga, Mbatapuhu, Kelamba) that are experiencing high levels of food shortages and have little means of coping. World Renew’s Senior Project Manager, Grace Wiebe explains “people are resorting to desperate measures, one of which is eating iwi, a poisonous root that takes several days to process in order not to be toxic. This includes peeling and slicing, (the saps of which can burn and injure fingers and palms) soaking for 3 days while stirring and trampling, then drying, another washing before steaming or cooking until it is finally edible. In order to gather Iwi, individuals are required to walk great distances. In Nappu village, people are forced to walk up to 20 kms to reach the river to be able to wash the iwi. These villages no longer have any rice or corn to eat. People have even eaten their stored seeds for planting of future crops in order to survive."

Through its alliance with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB), World Renew is able to access CIDA funding to provide an emergency food package to all 714 families in these four villages. These food packages will provide for the immediate food needs of the people and contain rice, mung beans, oil, sugar and iodized salt. This will enable them to prepare for the next planting season. CRWRC has also initiated a seeds project, to help address food security issues in these villages with the goal of re-establishing their corn crop production. The food assistance will last for five months until the next harvest.

This famine response project is being implemented by a Disaster Response Team from the Sumbanese Christian Church, Gereja Kristen Sumba (GKS). CRWRC has partnered with the GKS for the last twelve years in Indonesia.

World Renew has been working in Indonesia since 1984. World Renew works through The Center for the Development of Holistic Ministry, (P3H) an organization founded by the six synods of the Reformed Ecumenical Council of Churches (REC) in Indonesia which is comprised of 2,200 churches located on four islands. World Renew through P3H helps to equip local churches and their partner organizations to do holistic work and effectively serve their communities.