Raihal Fajri is an activist from Aceh, Meunasah Manyang, Indonesia. After a tsunami devastated her region in 2004, Raihal witnessed a drastic deterioration in the quality of water coming from her community’s water source, which was located next to a nearby concrete mine. Noticing the way this pollution harmed the women and children of her area, she decided to take urgent action, engaging stakeholders such as the cement mine leadership, the government, and the media in the conversation. Furthermore, Raihal comes from a predominantly Muslim region which is governed by Sharia law, and she recognized the critical necessity of engaging her community’s religious leadership in order to make change possible.
By highlighting the connection between the Qur’an’s teachings and the importance of maintaining a healthy environment, Raihal garnered the support she needed to step into leadership and eventually mobilized her entire community around the issue. Her activism brought substantial attention to the mining pollution her community faced, and she succeeded in revoking the mine’s permission to operate.
Since then, Raihal has strived to find ways to extend her network and cultivate her advocacy around the need for a safe and healthy environment. Raihal currently serves as the Executive Director of the Kahati Institute, where she uses her experience as a mediator, analyst, and leader to influence public policy and encourage transparency in the environmental sector.
As a member of the 2019 Indonesia Women’s Earth Alliance Accelerator, Raihal will receive facilitated skill-building, knowledge exchanges with other leading environmental advocates like her, and work with groups that will dig deeper into environmental technologies, networks, and communities of practice from which she can draw in her activism. With this training and support system, Raihal will return to Aceh with a deeper understanding of how to best build her network and bring about policy changes that will ensure clean water and a healthier environment for her community and region.