• 30%

    73.9 million people or 30% of Indonesia's population are either poor or vulnerable to falling back into poverty.

  • 51%

    Indonesia’s female labour-force participation rate is much lower than that for Indonesian men which is around 80%.

  • 131k

    Indonesia was one of the worst-affected countries in the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, with at least 131,000 people killed

Source: and

Why we work in Indonesia

Inequalities around women’s rights, risks to children attending school, and disasters like tsunamis are some of the issues facing communities in Indonesia.  

Unsafe schools

Nearly 5 million primary school children are studying in dilapidated schools2 . One in six classrooms in these schools is in some form of disrepair, forcing children to study in unsafe environments. This can include crumbling building foundations, missing floorboards and leaking roofs.

Gender inequality

Discrimination and inequality between the sexes mean that women and girls struggle to make their voices heard and face challenges taking part in civil society.  

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed further gender inequalities in Indonesia. Rates of domestic violence against women increased during country-wide lockdowns and two long-awaited pieces of legislation - a sexual violence prevention bill and a domestic worker protection bill - were put on the hold during the pandemic.3


Indonesia has faced a series of earthquakes and tsunamis. One of the more destructive disasters of recent history, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, hit several Asian countries including Indonesia and resulted in over 100,000 deaths.

Most recently, an earthquake of 7.4 magnitude struck the central province of Sulawesi in Indonesia, killing over 4,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands of survivors without food, water or shelter. 

Indonesia is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, with 130 active volcanoes and a high likelihood of volcanic eruptions. It has suffered severe eruptions in the past, resulting in fatalities and damage to the environment. 

What we do in Indonesia

Supporting the building of safe schools

Our safe schools programme in Indonesia ensures schools are built to code and that they provide a secure and stable environment for students.

ActionAid-YAPPIKA supports local communities to lobby their local governments to allocate a budget for school repairs. We also train schools and their neighbouring communities to improve their technical knowledge, so that they can play an informed and active role in the renovation of their schools. 

In recent years, 27 schools have been repaired with funds and support from the government along with donations. ActionAid plans to renovate over 1,300 classrooms and to empower 82 other school communities so that 17,000 primary school children can attend school safely.

Tackling gender inequality

The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated existing gender inequality in Indonesia. Unpaid care work and domestic violence cases have increased, and access to health, education and support have been hampered.4

We work with women's groups and other civil society organisations to raise awareness about gender inequality in 50 districts.

We train women in leadership skills and strengthen their ability to influence public policy. We also help strengthen local networks so they can share knowledge and campaign for access and better services for women. 

Responding to and building resilience to disasters

Our local staff provided immediate humanitarian relief during the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami of 2018.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, we reached out to 60,000 people with emergency aid including tents, tarpaulins, blankets to shelter families who lost their homes, and essentials like food, water, clothing, and nappies.

We set up public, community kitchens in the worst-hit areas to provide hot food for thousands of people a day and opened three women-friendly spaces for women to meet and identify their needs. 

We support women groups to develop skills to pursue income-generating activities such as fishing, food processing, and marketing to help women earn income to meet basic needs.

We also provide long-term support to help rebuild communities and strengthen their resilience to future disasters:

  • We help increase community resilience by helping them recover from the impact of humanitarian disasters.
  • We help establish community-owned disaster preparedness plans. We ensure that aid and disaster prevention programs are women-led as they know their communities best.
  • We provide support for communities to campaign and advocate for reducing disaster risk with their governments.
  • We conduct research and provide evidence of community involvement to influence national policies in disaster management.

Girls from ActionAid's safe school programme in Serang, Indonesia.

Alessandro Serrano/ActionAid

Make schools safe in Indonesia

ActionAid works closely with schools and communities to help provide safer environments for study. 

Many primary school children in publicly-funded schools are studying in hazardous conditions. Children are usually faced with ramshackle classrooms with unsound walls, leaking roofs and unstable flooring.

Our work involves analysing the education budget, conducting surveys and making accurate measurements to determine the level of damage to the school buildings, and working with communities to build a roadmap for the coming years. 

We help local people to lobby their governments for school budgets and we train them so they can oversee the management of repairs. 

Read about our work supporting girls' education

Wahida prepares a bottle of milk for her 2-year-old old son, Habibi, after the tsunami destroyed their home.

Andri Tambunan/ActionAid

The impact of the 2018 tsunami on women and children

Wahida's family home was destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami. She had to move to a coconut farm which was turned into a shelter for displaced people.

There were limited supplies for pregnant women and new mothers during the crisis. People were getting ill due to poor nutrition and unfiltered drinking water. 

Wahida's supplies of food, water, and formula milk were running low. ActionAid was quick to respond by distributing relief materials including bottles of water, nappies, blankets, underwear, sanitary napkins, baby powder, baby clothes, and baby mosquito nets to mothers and pregnant women. 

Read more about our response to the Indonesian tsunami


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Top image: Girls from ActionAid's safe school programme in Serang, Indonesia. Alessandro Serrano/ActionAid

Page updated 6 March 2023