Sokong Team
Fri Jan 05 2024

Ihsan Johor’s Humanitarian Target: Sustainable Solutions

Poverty Alleviation
Disaster Relief
This article features :

In 2016, Pertubuhan Ihsan Johor embarked on a mission to serve communities through four key clusters: Rumah Ihsan Johor, Sekolah Ihsan Johor, Squad Ihsan Johor, and Dapur Ihsan Johor. Two years later, recognising the pressing need for humanitarian relief during recurring floods in Johor, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) pivoted its focus. This shift towards disaster assistance compelled Ihsan Johor to extend its helping hand beyond Johor Bahru, reaching out to other states facing similar challenges.

"The change in focus towards humanitarian relief necessitates us extending our assistance beyond Johor Bahru, even to other states where help is needed," emphasised Farrah Baptist, Ihsan Johor's Chief Executive.

However, the dedication to their initial projects, especially the Dapur Ihsan soup kitchen, became just as critical as vulnerable communities grappled with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ihsan Johor, recognised as a 2018 awardee of the Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards, achieved acclaim in the 'Social Innovator' category for constructing 36 homes over two years using an innovative building system. This system, designed by its President Hj Md Razin, an architect, showcases the organisation's commitment to addressing housing needs for families in need.


Ihsan Johor's Collaboration with Government Departments and NGOs

The year 2023 marked a significant collaboration for Ihsan Johor as they joined forces with 10 government departments, seven NGOs, sponsors, and partners in a mission to aid fishermen in Mersing. Facing economic hardships exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-related challenges, fishing families in Mersing struggled to make ends meet.

"Fishermen earn less than RM500 a month from fishing, and that’s below the poverty line," stated Farrah, shedding light on the dire circumstances faced by the community.

Addressing Challenges and Promoting Sustainable Alternatives

Among Johor's poorest districts, Mersing encountered a decline in fish yield due to climate change and damage to fishermen’s nets and traps caused by commercial trawlers; Ihsan Johor's comprehensive project aimed to create supplemental income while addressing environmental concerns.

The initiative included assistance with Roselle plant cultivation, and sustainability efforts such as coral restoration, removal of the destructive crown of thorns, the creation of artificial reefs and fish sanctuaries called ‘tekun’, and beach cleanups. Mangrove and casuarina seedlings were also planted to address erosion and protect the beaches and coastline.

“We also removed tons of discarded nets left by fishing trawlers under the sea, which are harmful to marine life,” Farrah revealed.

"This is the third year we are conducting this mission with the villages in the five islands of the Mersing district," Farrah emphasised, underlining the ongoing commitment to the community.

Multi-Agency Collaboration and Preparedness for Monsoon Season

The project in Mersing aimed at alleviating economic struggles and with the collaboration of various agencies, including the police, emergency services, and disaster relief teams also included preparing the communities for the East Coast Monsoon.

“The participation of these agencies allowed us to rehearse collaboration with them, in preparation for the monsoon," Farrah added.

First aid workshops were also included in helping villagers deal with injuries and emergencies while waiting for the arrival of emergency services.

Uninvited Challenges and Collaborative Solutions

Apart from the challenges faced at sea, the villages also must deal with significant monkey populations on land. Farrah highlighted the collaboration with the Wildlife Department (Perhilitan), in mitigating human-wildlife conflicts.


"For instance, Pulau Pemanggil has more monkeys than humans. These primates are a nuisance, often disrupting the fishing families' attempts at agriculture to supplement their income, and they damage nets too," Farrah noted.

This year’s Mersing project added a religious event to it. As there was a lot of work going on under the waves, the state religious department sought the help of the participants to release blocks of ash from the Quran underwater that had been burned for disposal.

“It was the first time that this had been done at the Mersing project,” Farrah said, commenting that it was a poignant moment for her.

Sustainability is Key for Any NGO

As an NGO with less than 20 members, Ihsan Johor relies on 30 dedicated core supporters and a pool of 300 volunteers. They are known as Ihsan Johor Rangers.

Weekly, Ihsan Johor organises a foodbank, a food rescue initiative with Lotus's Desa Tebrau, where they collect from the supermarket to give to people in poverty.

"These rescued food items are expired according to the labelling, but they are edible, and recipients must consume or cook them within one or two days," Farrah noted.

Food items no longer appropriate for human consumption are sent to the Kluang Mini Zoo.

"This food rescue project aligns with the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG 13), concerned with limiting and adapting to climate change.


Operating on a monthly budget of approximately RM5,000.00, the organisation relies on the generosity of donors to sustain its diverse humanitarian projects. From disaster relief initiatives, and weekly assistance programmes, to the Mersing project, Ihsan Johor's multifaceted approach underscores its commitment to making a lasting impact on communities in need.

Your contribution can help Ihsan Johor continue its vital humanitarian efforts. To get started and make a difference, please click here.

by malaysiakini

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