Rebuilding in Indonesia a year on from the tsunami - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 13, 2005

Rebuilding in Indonesia a year on from the tsunami

-13/12/05

Chris Herlinger, a New York-based correspondent for Ecumenical News International, was recently on assignment in Aceh, Indonesia, on behalf of the US humanitarian agency Church World Service.

Almost a year after the lives of Indonesians living in the isolated province of Aceh were changed irrevocably by tidal waves triggered by a massive earthquake, humanitarian agencies face an oft-heard lament: the pace of building houses is not keeping pace with the need.

Thousands of residents in Aceh - the area hardest hit by the 26 December 2004 tsunami - remain in tents and other temporary shelter provided by the United Nations and international aid agencies. Such tents are common in the neighbourhood of Lampaseh Kota, a particularly affected area of the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

Recently, one of the residents of the neighbourhood, Afifuddin, 26, recounted to a group of visitors some of the frustrations of the last year. Lampaseh Kota, he said, had seen its population decimated from 5,000 to 1,000. He lost grandparents, nieces, nephews, a brother and a sister. Only a nephew survived.

While grateful for the emergency assistance that he and others received, Afifuddin and others clearly are tired of living in tents and eager to move past the stage of being dependent on relief aid. "The next step needs to be on making us independent," said Afifuddin, who has a degree in information technology.

The tsunami killed an estimated 232,000 in different parts of Asia and even in far away East Africa, and it is believed as many as 170,000 perished in Aceh alone.

Humanitarian officials in Aceh say the inevitable questions and expectations surrounding a "one-year" benchmark come as no surprise. But they also note the problems posed by a disaster of such magnitude and solving them in one year.

"When you travel through Aceh, it is true that far too many people are still living in tents and shelters," said Henrich Terhorst, head of the Banda Aceh office of the Roman Catholic aid agency Caritas Germany.

But Terhorst, in a recent interview with Ecumenical News International, also cautioned that rebuilding permanent housing is not the equivalent of distributing emergency assistance after a disaster, and involves a host of complicated issues ranging from property rights and titles to community planning.

Such will be the case in Louisiana hit by Hurricane Katrina, he said, and it was also in Germany after the Second World War. It is unfair, he said, for the world to expect that Indonesia would not face similar issues.

"My grandfather once said, after the [Second World War], that 'You have no idea what it's like to rebuild your community from scratch'," Terhorst said, noting that Aceh residents face a similar challenge.

Earlier this week, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who is overseeing the Indonesian government's reconstruction coordinating efforts, acknowledged the difficulties of such a massive task. But he said he still expected that 30,000 homes in Aceh will be completed by the end of the year and that 80,000 more will be completed in 2006.

[With thanks to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

Also on Ekklesia: (Tsunami, Aceh): Missionaries accused of exploiting tsunami victims; Aid agencies meet with Blair to discuss tsunami; Catholic agency arranging aid to earthquake zone; Donít use aid to proselytize, Christians urged; Earthquake has increased fears say Christian workers; Churches manage to ship supplies to earthquake zone]

Rebuilding in Indonesia a year on from the tsunami

-13/12/05

Chris Herlinger, a New York-based correspondent for Ecumenical News International, was recently on assignment in Aceh, Indonesia, on behalf of the US humanitarian agency Church World Service.

Almost a year after the lives of Indonesians living in the isolated province of Aceh were changed irrevocably by tidal waves triggered by a massive earthquake, humanitarian agencies face an oft-heard lament: the pace of building houses is not keeping pace with the need.

Thousands of residents in Aceh - the area hardest hit by the 26 December 2004 tsunami - remain in tents and other temporary shelter provided by the United Nations and international aid agencies. Such tents are common in the neighbourhood of Lampaseh Kota, a particularly affected area of the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

Recently, one of the residents of the neighbourhood, Afifuddin, 26, recounted to a group of visitors some of the frustrations of the last year. Lampaseh Kota, he said, had seen its population decimated from 5,000 to 1,000. He lost grandparents, nieces, nephews, a brother and a sister. Only a nephew survived.

While grateful for the emergency assistance that he and others received, Afifuddin and others clearly are tired of living in tents and eager to move past the stage of being dependent on relief aid. "The next step needs to be on making us independent," said Afifuddin, who has a degree in information technology.

The tsunami killed an estimated 232,000 in different parts of Asia and even in far away East Africa, and it is believed as many as 170,000 perished in Aceh alone.

Humanitarian officials in Aceh say the inevitable questions and expectations surrounding a "one-year" benchmark come as no surprise. But they also note the problems posed by a disaster of such magnitude and solving them in one year.

"When you travel through Aceh, it is true that far too many people are still living in tents and shelters," said Henrich Terhorst, head of the Banda Aceh office of the Roman Catholic aid agency Caritas Germany.

But Terhorst, in a recent interview with Ecumenical News International, also cautioned that rebuilding permanent housing is not the equivalent of distributing emergency assistance after a disaster, and involves a host of complicated issues ranging from property rights and titles to community planning.

Such will be the case in Louisiana hit by Hurricane Katrina, he said, and it was also in Germany after the Second World War. It is unfair, he said, for the world to expect that Indonesia would not face similar issues.

"My grandfather once said, after the [Second World War], that 'You have no idea what it's like to rebuild your community from scratch'," Terhorst said, noting that Aceh residents face a similar challenge.

Earlier this week, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who is overseeing the Indonesian government's reconstruction coordinating efforts, acknowledged the difficulties of such a massive task. But he said he still expected that 30,000 homes in Aceh will be completed by the end of the year and that 80,000 more will be completed in 2006.

[With thanks to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

Also on Ekklesia: (Tsunami, Aceh): Missionaries accused of exploiting tsunami victims; Aid agencies meet with Blair to discuss tsunami; Catholic agency arranging aid to earthquake zone; Don't use aid to proselytize, Christians urged; Earthquake has increased fears say Christian workers; Churches manage to ship supplies to earthquake zone]

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