Behind the Swell in Nias

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Mark Healey charging Lagundri July 25, 2018. Photo by Ted Grambeau.

This is Lagundri Bay, where big wave surfers from across the globe gathered last month to conquer some of the biggest waves Nias has ever seen. It’s also where the WSL Nias Pro men’s and women’s QS event is being held this weekend. Returning to Nias for the first time since the late 90s, just before Dr. Dave - grappling with a crisis of conscience - founded SurfAid, this perfect right hander delivers an amazing wave and triumphant story of local resilience.  

Lagundri pumping. Photo by surfEXPLORE | John Seaton Callahan

Step off the beach and into the jungle and you’ll find that Nias suffers from poverty, with nearly 60% of the population living in poverty or dangerously close to it. Poverty is a significant contributor to food insecurity and malnutrition. Incomes are insufficient to meet other basic needs like clean water, sanitation and basic healthcare.

With the support of our donors and the local villages where we work, SurfAid’s interventions in Nias over the past 7-10 years are addressing all of these issues.

Working closely with 21 community health groups, SurfAid has supported the development of small businesses including catfish, chicken, snacks, chilies, cocoa and corn. The business groups, selected for their demonstrated leadership capacity in previous SurfAid projects, are mostly women. SurfAid assistance comes in the form of continuous coaching, technical support, business training and marketing guidance, which are all based on specialised market chain assessments specific to Nias.

The small business group of Loloana’a village show off their catfish harvest, which is in high demand! Photo by Yusman.

“The technical training, coaching and supervision by SurfAid enables us to start economic activities on our own,” says Nibenia Laoli, a community health volunteer in Dima village.

SurfAid’s programme is effectively tackling food insecurity and malnutrition rates in children. Recent results from the Gido region show that malnutrition status has decreased from 24% to 0.9%.

The programme is also driving economic growth in the region and profits from the small businesses not only increase household income, but also contribute towards the long-term sustainability of community health posts, which directly improve the health of women and children.

Happy, healthy and nourished children play at the community health post. Photo by Ira Rambe.

Thank you to our supporters who help SurfAid build capacity into the fabric of remote communities in Nias, empowering them to transform their lives.

Surfing has drawn so many of us to Indo and as you watch the WSL Nias Pro, spare a thought for the locals beyond the palms. Thank you for being a SurfAid supporter and channeling your love for surfing to draw attention to much needed support for wave rich but resource poor villages.

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