CWS Initial Appeal: Mt. Sinabung Eruption (Indonesia)

August 4, 2014



After being dormant for more than 400 years, the 8,530-foot Mt. Sinabung volcano on Sumatra Island, Indonesia, erupted in August 2010. Since then, more than 200 eruptions have displaced 30,000-plus people from 34 villages in Karo District, North Sumatra Province. The last major eruption, on Feb. 1, 2014, killed 14 people, including seven members of the Indonesian Christian Student Movement, known as GMKI.

These young people died while trying to save people from the fast-moving currents of hot gas and rock that can reach speeds of up to 450 mph and temperatures of 1,830 degrees F. These currents swept down from Mt. Sinabung.

Since February volcanic activity has decreased and some of the displaced have returned to their homes and villages after authorities declared it safe to do so. However, many others are unable to go home. Their homes and villages are destroyed and covered under lava and ash.

These villages are close to the volcano and inside the government’s newly defined exclusion zone, established in the wake of the recent eruptions.  People from these villages will never be able to return home and must be relocated, a process that will likely take many months, or even years.

While the government is looking for alternative locations and for ways to relocate the villages the affected men, women and children face a protracted displacement. They have been living in camps that were established in schools, churches, government offices and open fields since November 2013, and will likely remain there for at least another six months.

Significantly, their livelihoods and their crops such as vegetables, oranges, coffee, rice and corn are largely destroyed; 33,586 hectares (approximately 83,000 acres) of agricultural lands are destroyed, as are houses, schools and shops, along with public facilities such as power and water supply facilities, and government offices.

On 30 June, Mt. Sinabung erupted again, spewing ash. There were no casualties reported. Yet, according to authorities, there are still 14,382 displaced — 4,105 households in 28 shelters and 370 families in temporary housing.


This appeal focuses on the ongoing humanitarian needs of the displaced still in camps/shelters. Their lives are, for all intents and purposes, “on hold.” Various groups responded initially to help the displaced, but now, nine months later, that initial response is winding down, with needs continuing for the 14,000 persons still in the camps.

Many services, such as clean water and sanitation as well as non-food items such as household cleaning supplies and personal hygiene basics like soap and shampoo, remain inadequate and are being discontinued entirely.  People in the camps have lost their livelihoods, and need to start earning incomes.

CWS is initiating a program to improve access to water supply and sanitation facilities for all 4,544 people in nine displacement camps, including construction or rehabilitation of 18 public latrines and sanitation facilities; providing full access to clean water in the camps; and constructing solid waste disposal facilities in the camps.

The CWS response also focuses on providing non-food item packages to those in the camps, including hygiene kits, baby kits, sleeping mats, and blankets to 1,502 households (and 162 babies) in the nine IDP camps.

A third arm of the response: training on SPHERE humanitarian standards, and disaster preparedness and management to 15 staff and volunteers with the Indonesian organization YAYASAN ATE KELENG.

The length of the CWS response is for six months, beginning August 18, 2014. There may be a follow-up appeal that focuses on supporting the return of the displaced to their home communities.


$200,043, including $182,603 for direct assistance, including $93,300 for water and sanitation work; $73,303 for non-food items; and $16,000 for training costs.


Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be made online, or sent to: Church World Service, Attn.: Mt. Sinabung Eruption (INDONESIA) APPEAL CODE:  #700-O, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.

CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.