From Rebuilding to Revitalizing: Five Years After the Tsunami - Building Capacity for a Stronger Future in Aceh and Nias

December 21, 2009

  • The Government of Indonesia showed tremendous leadership in coordinating the US$7 billion reconstruction effort in Aceh and Nias
  • Physical reconstruction in the two provinces is nearing completion, but moving forward much work still needs to be done to revive and revitalize the economy in Aceh and Nias
  • With support from national and local governments, the Multi Donor Fund for Aceh and Nias remains committed to supporting the next phase of development until the end of 2012

December 21, 2009, Banda Aceh - Jamaliah (62) of Blang Oi village, Meuraxa Sub Regency - lost her husband and home during the devastating tsunami disaster which hit Aceh and Nias on December 26, 2004. She has since received a new home and land certificate, but like the majority of other house recipients, must now continue on with her life, earning a modest income from selling snacks at a nearby school. When not at the school, Jamaliah spends a lot of time tending to the small garden in her new home. ''Not that I do not wish to do more, but I am short of capital to be able to expand my little business,'' she says. Her two sons, Syahrul Mubarak (24) and Bengkel Syahputra (22) sometimes provide her with additional funds from their earnings to purchase the basic ingredients.

Many in Jamaliah's position resort to loan sharks for capital, but have to pay high interest rates and repay the loan in daily or weekly installments. Five years after the tsunami, it becomes more apparent that the need for access to finance or capital is growing in both Aceh and Nias. Physical reconstruction in the two provinces – houses, roads, bridges, schools, markets, etc. – is nearing completion, but moving forward much work still needs to be done to revive and revitalize the economy in Aceh and Nias.

The Multi Donor Fund for Aceh and Nias, under the World Bank's management, remains committed to supporting this final phase of development until the end of 2012. ''Our focus is now on capacity building for institutions and emphasizing on sustainable economic development,'' said Joachim von Amsberg, World Bank Country Director for Indonesia during the launch of the MDF's Annual Progress Report for 2009. The Agency for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction for Aceh & Nias (BRR) showed tremendous leadership in coordinating the US$7 billion reconstruction effort. After the BRR's mandate ended April 2009, local government and BAPPENAS (National Development Planning Agency) took over the lead in Aceh and Nias's development.

''The MDF has helped the government reach its reconstruction targets as outlined in the Master Plan for Aceh-Nias. Under government leadership, the MDF has proven to be a good instrument for harmonizing donor support for local priorities'', according to Suprayoga Hadi, Director of Special and Disadvantaged Areas, BAPPENAS. ''Together we are now working to ensure the sustainability of the assets being transferred - physical as well as knowledge - for better economic development impact.''

The Aceh provincial government now jointly leads the MDF, to ensure reconstruction remains responsive to local needs and priorities and strengthens capacity to carry out accelerated development. ''The Government of Aceh continues to play a strong role in the MDF to guide the overall focus of its reconstruction assistance,'' says said Vice Governor of Aceh, M. Nazar

The MDF has committed US$ 601 million to 22 projects in five key areas. This includes supporting the recovery of communities through addressing gaps in the reconstruction of housing and community infrastructure, and also in rebuilding and rehabilitating large scale infrastructure and transportation networks. The MDF has also made significant contributions to the overall reconstruction of Aceh and Nias through support for governance and capacity development at multiple levels. Cross-cutting concerns such as environmental sustainability and support for livelihoods have also been an important focus of MDF efforts, in line with the Government's own reconstruction and development agenda. As the reconstruction winds down, the MDF continues its commitment to Aceh and Nias through scaling up its support for improving economic opportunities and livelihoods to strengthen the recovery process.

With the plans to improve economic and livelihood opportunities, the pleas from the people of Aceh and Nias as such Jamaliah and her children is hoped to be realized.