Papua Partners is an international NGO that was founded in 2006 to build the capacity and resilience of Indigenous Papuans to respond to the increasingly complex social, political and environmental situation in West Papua - the Western half of the island of New Guinea, which has been subjected to colonisation by the Republic of Indonesia since the 1960s.
We work in solidarity and partnership with a network of local Indigenous groups, churches and civil society partners to build peace and deliver environmental justice in the region, and to bring sustained, transformational change to the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous West Papuans. Over the next 5 years, we aim to have impacted the lives of over 100,000 people, and to be partnering with organisations influencing 8 regions across West Papua.
Empowerment of women and girls
iWaTaLi was set up in late 2017 by a group of activists, NGOs and church leaders to build partnerships across denominational lines, and to empower indigenous communities to be legally, politically, socially and economically self-sufficient. They function as the local implementation arm of Papua Partners, and predominantly work with indigenous youth, envisaging a future in which a motivated and inspired youth become the future leaders of West Papua with values rooted in humanity, rather than violence. Their work includes training in peacebuilding, leadership, human rights and environmental reporting, addressing gender-based violence and paralegal work. They also work with churches, equipping and mobilising them to engage in social justice and peacebuilding. They support our strategic decision-making, including decisions relating to funding.
Yasumat was established in 1994 by leaders from four tribes (Yali, Hupla, Kimyal and Momuna) to support contextual development in the remote areas of Yahukimo and Jayawijaya. They focus on a variety of interventions including education, healthcare, sustainable community development and environmental stewardship. This includes: training and supporting teachers and health workers, equipping rural clinics and community schools, providing emergency health assistance by air evacuation, supporting community development through small business development and agriculture, and enabling environmental stewardship through land restoration and participatory land mapping.
YAPELIN was founded in 1977 to support the GIDI church (Gereja Injili di Indonesia) – the largest indigenous church in West Papua, which has approximately 1,000 congregations and more than one million members. They are focused on mobilising the church to bring about transformational change within communities throughout Papua, across healthcare, education and sustainable community development. They also manage the significant number of assets that belong to the church, including health clinics, hospitals, schools and over 35 airstrips which help them deliver supplies to remote communities across Papua.
Eruwok is a community organisation set up by indigenous leaders in the District of Bokondini to support local community development programs. They provide community health support – training health workers and raising health awareness in communities – as well as community development, including setting up savings banks and facilitating training (including computers, baking, handicrafts).
YumYaf was set up in 2016 by a group of indigenous women with the aim of equipping and supporting women in leadership and developing local initiatives for health and education in Papua. They focus on four key areas: Environmental awareness and protection, women & gender-based violence, trauma healing, and access to health and education.
The West Papua Women’s Crisis Centre (formal name pending) was established in 2023 with the support of Papua Partners. It derives from the Kingmi church, and will work with congregations in conflict areas to support women who are being affected by the ongoing conflict. They will help and empower IDPs with survival skills, including economic empowerment, and adaptation to living away from their customary lands. They will also work to mobilise and equip women to thrive in their role as environmental stewards, including through research and advocacy which will help others understand the role of Papuan women from their own perspective, and create an evidence base for the provision of further support.
Papua Partners also works with two key networks, the West Papuan Council of Churches (established 2019), and the West Papuan Christian Youth Forum (established in 2017 and officially launched 2020). We collaborate on external-facing advocacy efforts, including collating evidence of human rights abuses for formal presentation to the United Nations, as well as within Papua to understand and respond to ongoing changes in the conflict.
Papua Partners is registered in the UK, where we have a governing board and a number of support staff. However, the majority of our work takes place in West Papua, and is delivered through our core local partner iWaTaLi, who function as the local arm of our operations. We employ a number of local staff through iWaTaLi, and their Papua board oversees our work in the region.
We support a variety of local Partners who work across West Papua, whose work covers (but is not limited to) the following regencies: Yahukimo, Maybrat, Sentani , Yahukimo, Pegunungan Bintang, Tolikara, Jayawijaya, Puncak, Punjak Jaya and Lani Jaya.
Papua Partners was originally formed at the request of a group of Indigenous Papuans who wanted a means of raising awareness about ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua outside of the region. Since then, everything we have done – from the programmes we support, to the funding we give – has been informed by our local team and partners, and the communities and churches they work with. This is our reason for existence, and a core part of our organisational DNA. As well as employing indigenous Papuans directly, Papua Partners exists to represent their perspective and experience of the conflict outside of West Papua, when it is not safe for them to do so. We have also established a local board in Papua, to support and inform the work of our international board.
We support the right of indigenous Papuans towards self-determination, and work every day to empower our partners to make their own decisions about the lands that they live on. More specifically, we believe in delivering a route to peace and justice that is informed and led by an indigenous Papuan perspective, and fosters meaningful participation and understanding on all sides of the conflict. We do not condone violence of any kind, and are currently calling for a UN-led independent investigation into human rights abuses in the region, as well as for a humanitarian ceasefire to enable the necessary agencies to gain access to internally displaced peoples who urgently need their support.
Papua Partners is a UK-registered charity no 1117275. In our core team, we currently have one part-time Director who is based in the UK, and five full-time staff who are based in our operational partner iWaTaLi's office in West Papua. We also work with two part-time contractors to support our fundraising, advocacy and communications work. All of our programmes, budget and funding decisions are overseen by a Board of Directors, which is made up of five trustees with skills including: finance, environment, healthcare, communications, advocacy and governance. The board is based in the UK and meets regularly to discuss all aspects of our programming. We are in the process of integrating the Papua Partners board and iWaTaLi boards so that members from each board will sit on the other board and we will have joint meetings several times a year.
All of our funding decisions are informed by our partners on the ground in West Papua, and guided by our local team. Before any substantial final decision is taken, it is proposed to and approved by our Board.
We are very generously supported by a range of individual and philanthropic donors, as well as through a number of small-scale grants. As we look to expand our advocacy work we are hoping to secure more funding, specifically to enable us to share first-hand accounts of the conflict in West Papua on the global stage. If this is something you are interested in supporting, please go to our donate page for more information. You can read our latest financial statement here.
We are committed to promoting the security and well-being of our beneficiaries, volunteers and staff, and that children and vulnerable adults/adults at risk (men and women) are protected from all forms of harm and abuse, and able to live a life with dignity, respect and security. As such, we have implemented robust safeguarding procedures to protect our partners in Papua, and to ensure the integrity and efficacy of the work that we support in the region. Our safeguarding policy lays out the commitments made by Papua Partners, and informs staff and associated personnel of their responsibilities.
In addition, we proactively encourage a culture of ‘Zero tolerance’ towards all forms of harm and abuse, and work to ensure that staff and representatives ‘Do no harm’ while working for or with Papua Partners.