In 1984, concerned North Sumatran citizens and churchgoers anticipated the impending arrival of industry onto Batak land. They discussed their concern—will we go down in history as just another casualty of development? Leaning into hope, they founded KSPH, our precursor, an organization that gave legal education to Toba Batak people, empowering them to stand up against policies that violate their rights, especially their rights to their land.
After more than 20 years of experience, our approach to empowerment today is more robust and holistic, though still rooted in education.
Supported by a management team of six, the rest of our 20-person staff works in two divisions that bolster each other, integrating bottom-up and top-down methods. The organizing team builds and strengthens self-governed peoples’ groups, facilitating discussion about issues like food sovereignty, climate change, encouraging creative, long-term commitment to meaningful fulfillment of their socio-economic rights (ECOSOC). The study-based advocacy team analyzes the social & environmental impacts of development & industry in 3 regions, publishes reports about Batak customs, and carefully examines policy, asking questions—“does this new law recognize indigenous peoples’ rights or exploit and pollute?”—to discern how our ongoing efforts can be as strategic as possible.