December 1, 2010, Jakarta - Ten months after it was struck by a seven magnitude earthquake, Haiti is now shifting its focus to reconstruction. In doing so, Haiti has chosen to learn from Indonesia – a fellow developing country that had to deal with a similar challenge a few years earlier. In 2004, the Aceh tsunami killed over 230,000 people and left about 500,000 homeless. While Indonesia was still struggling to rebuild Aceh, an earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale struck Yogyakarta in May 2006, killing nearly 6,000 people and leaving an estimated 1.5 million homeless. A similar number of people have also been left homeless in Port-au-Prince, and the Haitian government is keen on learning from Indonesia how best to address the complex issue of putting new roofs over the heads of so many.
Earlier this month, a delegation from Haiti visited Jogja and Aceh to see firsthand how the two provinces recovered from their disasters. The delegation made Jogja their first case study, visiting areas most-affected by the quake over a three-day period.
“We would like to learn from all of you how your country recovered from the disaster and how you built the damaged houses in a very short period of time,” said delegation leader Jean Alix Nicolas from Haiti’s Bureau of Monetization of Development Assistance Programs, in a meeting with the Yogyakarta provincial government. Rusdiyanto, from Yogyakarta’s Provincial Disaster Management Agency, noted that besides close coordination among governments, aid workers and locals, the key success factor of the reconstruction effort was people’s willingness to voluntarily help each other. It is this attitude, he added, that has made it possible to rebuild all damaged houses in only three years.
The Java Reconstruction Fund (JRF) pooled contributions from seven donor countries totaling US$94.1 million. A community-driven approach, fueled by the spirit of "gotong royong" – a Javanese expression to illustrate communal cooperation to achieve a shared objective – led to the building of 15,153 permanent earthquake resistant houses and completion of 1,892 infrastructure projects such as village roads, bridges, and water and sanitation facilities.
For the second leg of the trip, the Haitian delegation traveled to Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, which was struck six years ago by one of the most devastating earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesian history. While there, the delegation visited housing areas built under REKOMPAK, the Community-based Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Project, and interacted with the beneficiaries.
After visiting the REKOMPAK houses, the delegation commended the quality of the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts through REKOMPAK. The visit to Aceh also allowed the delegation to learn more about the Indonesian government’s central role in coordinating the reconstruction process via the BRR, the reconstruction and rehabilitation agency led by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto – who is now tasked with leading the Presidential Work Unit for Development Monitoring and Control (known locally by the acronym of UKP4) – as well as the donor fund management role performed by the MDF. “The involvement of the government both at local and central level is apparent and have made a significant difference in reconstruction and rehabilitation,” said Nicolas.
The January quake that struck Port-au-Prince killed approximately 250,000 people and damaged 190,000 houses. Individuals, aid organizations, and governments around the world have been rallying to aid the people of Haiti. A number of World Bank experts that were involved in the Aceh and Yogyakarta reconstruction initiatives are now part of the multi-donor Haiti Reconstruction Fund, which to date has gathered over $265 million from eleven donors.
The Haitians expressed their satisfaction with the study visit and what they learned from the experiences in Indonesia with community-based disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation. Formidable was heard often at the last meeting of the visit!