West Papuan community

About us

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.

How we work

We offer funding, training and strategic support to a range of Papuan-led organisations, as guided and informed by our local team, our partners, and the communities that they work with. The majority of this work is led by our core local partner, iWaTaLi, which functions as the local arm of Papua Partners.

Our unique approach is centred around equipping, accompanying and mobilising communities as they work to implement transformational change, ensuring that the knowledge, skills and guidance that we and our partners provide remain within communities long after we leave.

This includes:

  • Working with local experts to equip churches, networks, organisations and influential individuals to ensure they have the skills to train others, and establish positive change across their communities. 
  • Accompanying those who are already leading and facilitating change in their communities through mentoring, coaching, and the facilitation of thematic cohorts and learning exchanges.
  • Mobilising our partner organisations to scale their impact for transformation through resourcing high impact initiatives, supporting movement building and actively facilitating networking and advocacy, nationally and internationally, for the rights of West Papuans.
West Papuan women knitting
West Papua nature
Our local interventions necessarily span a range of focus areas, including the following:

Community development

In spite of being rich in natural resources, West Papua has the lowest Human Development Index score and highest poverty rates in the whole of Indonesia (2021). Many of the jobs that derive from the exploitation and extraction of natural resources are given to transmigrant communities, and investment in healthcare and education has been extremely limited. Furthermore, the few health and education programmes that the state does run are often characterised by the presence of the Indonesian military which, given the history of the conflict and the intergenerational trauma that it has caused, does little to foster a productive learning atmosphere.

We work with our partners to overcome these barriers through mobilising communities to set up their own healthcare and education services – including equipping rural clinics, training and supporting community health workers, providing emergency health assistance by air evacuation, and running parallel schools and literacy groups in the rural highlands. We also provide training in alternative livelihood development, working with communities to co-create solutions to the problems they are facing, including through the development of small businesses and co-operative savings groups.

Human Rights

The conflict in West Papua has been characterised by horrendous human rights abuses and disappearances at the hands of the Indonesian state, which have gone under-reported and unpunished for far too long. We regularly receive reports of the torture, abuse and extra judicial killings of innocent West Papuan civilians by members of the Indonesian Military, often in response to unfounded accusations regarding their links to the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) – the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). The public and private lives of Indigenous West Papuans are extremely restricted, militarised and characterised by fear, with the smallest ‘indiscretions’ – such as travelling to forest gardens to collect food – ending in accusations of collaborations with the TPN-PB.

In response, we are working with local partners and youth networks to train activists to safely and accurately document and report these human rights abuses, so that we can build an evidence base to present the facts about the conflict to the outside world, including to United Nations mechanisms.  As freedom of press and movement in the region is still severely limited, we believe it is critical that we work to raise awareness about this horrendous conflict, the impact it is having on Indigenous West Papuans, and on the lands that they have stewarded for thousands of years.

Indigenous leadership

Indigenous Papuans are thought to have inhabited the island of Papua for over 40,000 years. However, through decades of conflict, displacement and state-imposed restrictions, Indigenous peoples have repeatedly been side-lined from economic activities, and their ways of life have come under threat. This has been exacerbated by a state-led transmigration programme that has encouraged an influx of non-Melanesian Papuans to West Papua, who are given disproportionate access to housing and jobs. 

In response, we work to build the capacity of Indigenous West Papuans to lead local, long-lasting change. This includes equipping Indigenous leaders, churches and organisations with the knowledge, skills and networks to mobilise change, advocate for a better future, design and run essential services, and support local social and economic development.

Empowerment of women and girls

West Papuan women face severe inequality. They are side-lined from economic and political activities, and experience multiple patterns of violence in their lives from the state, in their communities and in their homes. Many women are denied access to basic human rights, such as education and healthcare, with less than 10% of births being attended by a professional, resulting in high levels of maternal and child mortality.  Furthermore, there is little-to-no understanding of how women's empowerment can be linked to poverty reduction and development, nor of the critical role that Indigenous women play as environmental stewards.

In response, we work to promote the rights of women and girls, such that they may live a life free from discrimination and violence, to have equal access to (and equal opportunities in) political and public life, as well as access to basic rights of health, education and economic opportunities. This includes raising awareness about violence against women and girls (VAWG), addressing the root causes of gender inequalities within communities, developing, equipping and empowering a grassroots womens’ network, and implementing innovative mechanisms for female economic empowerment in remote areas, including female-led co-operative banking.


Over 60,000 Indigenous West Papuans have been displaced from their customary lands since 2019 due to the escalating conflict, many of whom are now living in informal very basic camps in the forest, or in illegal settlements on the edge of towns, which are crowded and extremely limited in resources. The trauma of being uprooted from their ancestral homes is especially painful for Indigenous Papuans, who form deep spiritual and cultural connections with their lands. As such, they are stripped of a large part of their identity when they are uprooted – not least through their lack of access to the forests and gardens which give them medicine, food and shelter.

We work closely with displaced and affected communities to break the cycle of trauma, to advocate for access to critical resources such as healthcare, education and alternative livelihoods, and to foster constructive dialogue in relation to the ongoing conflict. This includes running storytelling circles in which women share their experiences of trauma, and discussion groups and workshops which help build partnerships across denominational and cultural lines with joint understanding and visions for peacebuilding.  We are also building a network of change agents who have the capacity to document what is happening in their communities, and to mobilise actions for local peacebuilding. Our vision is to help pave a pathway to peace which fully acknowledges, integrates, and respects the perspectives and experiences of West Papuans – without which we cannot envisage an end to this long-standing conflict.

Environmental stewardship

For over 100 years, West Papua’s rich natural resources have been widely sought after both within Indonesia and internationally. As a result, the region has been characterised by decades of inequitable and illegal resource extraction, and proliferation of government-led infrastructure initiatives that have displaced Indigenous peoples and caused the destruction of their customary lands. By forcibly removing Indigenous Papuans in this way, the Indonesian state is removing the last-best chance we have of protecting one of the most biodiverse regions left on earth.

In response, our environmental stewardship work focuses on ensuring that the communities we support have the knowledge, skills and tools to protect, restore and defend their customary lands. We do this through participatory land mapping and land restoration, the monitoring and reporting of illegal resource extraction, and sustainable livelihood development. This includes working within communities to develop income strategies that do not rely on environmental destruction, for example, community-run guest houses, livestock small-holdings and sustainable agriculture, as well as raising awareness internationally about the impact that these extractive industries are having on the environment.

Disaster response

Natural disasters are becoming increasingly frequent in West Papua, partly as a result of climate-induced weather changes, but also due to unsustainable development, extractive industries and deforestation activities which are making landslides, water pollution and floods increasingly common.  

 As we work with organisations who are rooted within local communities, our response role after natural disaster strikes is an extremely important one. For example, after the flash floods which displaced 11,000 people from their homes in Sentani in March 2019, we worked with our partner Yapelin to respond quickly. We provided emergency shelter and resources, as well as supporting over the longer-term with housing and the establishment of small businesses and savings groups for those who were displaced. We also ran Trauma Healing workshops where people were able to share their stories of loss, understand the cycle of grief that accompanies events such as this and support each other to move forward.

Our partners

We currently work with a number of partners who operate across West Papua, predominantly through the provision of funding, training and strategic support. Our work in West Papua is led and delivered by our core implementation partner, iWaTaLi:

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.

West Papua Women’s Crisis Centre

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.

Our team

Naomi Sosa
Naomi Sosa
Dominggus Deda
Dominggus Deda
Head of Programmes
Yepina Matuan
Yepina Matuan
Church and Community Mobilisation & Gender Based Violence Coordinator
Eneko Bahabol
Eneko Bahabol
Peace and Justice Coordinator
Yogbert Fele
Yogbert Fele
Media and Documentation
Lakiek Silip
Lakiek Silip
Financial Manager


Where are you based?

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.

Which regions do you work in?

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.

What makes you ‘indigenous-led’?

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.

What is your perspective on Papuan independence?

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. 

What is your governance structure?

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.

How do you make funding decisions?

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. 

Who are you funded by?

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.

How do you keep your staff and partners safe?

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.