Sinabung: A Testament Of Survival.
Project info

Mount Sinabung is a Stratovolcano mountain located at the Karo plateau of the Karo regency in North Sumatra, Indonesia. After lying dormant for over 400 years, the 2,460 meters tall mountain erupted in 2010 until now causing thousands of people living near the valley of the volcano losing their homes.

The majority living in the area which had been categorized as the red zone after the eruption were Christians from the Batak Karo ethnic tribe.However, despite the major event, its inhabitants were too heavyhearted to leave the land they inherited from their ancestors.

According to the locals in Mount Sinabung, when a Batak (a community of Indonesian people) is born, their placenta will be buried in the soil of the village as a sign of loyalty that they would stay there for life with the spirit of Mount Sinabung.

Although pressured with all kinds of catastrophe, be it the hot volcanic ash and mud flood which destroyed their crops, they never gave up and continued living on the land that they depended on for their livelihood.

Among the crops grown commercially are coffee beans for potential economic exploration as well as lemons which is also common around the Mount Sinabung area. While other crops were destroyed during hot volcanic ash attacks, only coffee beans sustain and actually become more fertile through the organic fertilizer produced by ashes from the volcanic eruption which transforms into mud, giving the beans an exceptional quality.

In the wake of the eruption, the Karo National Disaster Management Agency (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana/BNPB) organized a program called Rehab Rekon which focused on among others training and supervision to farmers in Mount Sinabung. The program concentrated on changing the cultivation of lemons to cultivation of coffee commercially to increase productivity and the economy of the Karo people living near Mount Sinabung.

Even though the people of Karo had got back up to restore their economic condition and settlement which have been destroyed by the eruption slowly since 2010, there are still some who are unfortunate to continue living in their village that have been covered in volcanic ash following the series of eruptions. The situation had forced them to become refugees in their own land which caught immediate attention by the Indonesian government.

The Indonesian government had through BNPB gave an opportunity to the people of Desa Suka Meriah, Desa Bekerah and Desa Simacem to explore their relocation area in Siosar. The village which is about 30 hectares and 40 kilometers away from Mount Sinabung is said to be a strategic location as it is just 20 kilometers away from Kabanjahe, the capital of Karo district.

According to one of the resident, Suparman Surbakti, 17, the government had given a half hectare land for 370 families to carry out agricultural activities and it also provided subsidy for potatoes. Each family members were supplied with 13 boxes of potato seeds which became their income with an average price of Rp9,300 (RM3) per kilogram if sold to a distributor.

However, not everyone is fortunate enough to be relocated to Siosar and receive that kind of privilege. A total of 276 families comprising over 900 people had been displaced from their original placement in Desa Mardinding after their homes were destroyed by the mud flood and volcano ashes from Mount Sinabung. Desa Mardinding which is located only 3 kilometers from Mount Sinabung makes it unsafe to be inhabited again after the eruption. They set up a temporary refugee camp with assistance from the local authorities in Desa Terung Peren, Kabupaten Karo.

For the villagers who did not get the same privilege as the people who had been relocated in Siosar as their village was not fully destroyed and they still have their land and could come back there after the eruption ends.