Nias, 16 Juni 2010 – Scattered was the picture of Nias five years ago. Within a three-month period, Nias had been hit by two natural disasters - tsunami in December 2004 and earthquake in March 2005 - almost 85% of infrastructure in the area was damage. A variety of programs have been designed to rebuild Nias, one such being the Kecamatan-Based Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Planning Project (KRRP) or PNPM Rehabilitasi Rekonstruksi Pulau Nias. This Program has been implemented in nine sub-districts, consisting of four main components: building houses and infrastructure, preserving the environment, preserving the local culture, and building the capacity of program implementing units and local communities.
The KRRP program is unique in its implementation. In a recent radio interview, group leader Kasihriang Gulo said " potential beneficiaries are determined by several phases: first is to conduct village meetings and to establish a verification team of consisting of four women and three men. This team will later visit the houses of people affected by the disaster. All results or data of prospective beneficiaries will be discussed in a village-level meeting."
The program is not only focused on reconstructing houses and infrastructure but also environmental preservation. To help replace the wood used for constructing houses, the KRRP provides tree seedlings to help raise public awareness on protecting and preserving environment. Under this replanting program, home-owners are required to plant up to 12 trees. In South Nias for example, locals have replanted about 2200 trees. Similar replanting programs are also applied in the construction of village community halls and schools.
Another unique dimension to the KRRP program is the preservation of local cultures and wisdom. Working together with local museums (Museum Yayasan Pusaka Nias) and socio-cultural organizations (Badan Pemberdayaan dan Warisan Nias and Bamper Madani Foundation), the KRRP institutes a Nias cultural heritage preservation program aimed at educators and youths. This involves cultural education training activities, visits to traditional villages, and the preparation of educational modules.
Melkhior Duha, who leads one of the socio-cultural organizations working on the cultural dimension of KRRP, says “it will be very unfair if only the school buildings are paid attention to, while cultural education is not developed and preserved. Therefore, where the KRRP program is implemented to construct school buildings, we seek to take part by helping revitalize the local culture."
Overall, beneficiaries have praised the KRRP program for its provision of knowledge and equal opportunity. Kasihriang Gulo says "before I was only a housewife, but now I chair one of the housing groups. I’ve been taught how to keep books and attended training in Medan with many others."
Moving forward, the key challenge is how to keep activities going after the KRRP program officially closes in June 2011. This challenge lies squarely on the shoulders of local government. Toharudin, the local government official in charge of KRRP activities in South Nias , says he has asked local communities to maintain their commitment to the program. “We, the local government, expect home-owners to maintain their houses and not to sell or transfer ownership of the homes to others over the next five years. Similarly, we ask that communities – especially school committees – take the lead in caring for its school buildings."