Commemorating two years of UN-HABITAT’s post-Tsunami reconstruction work in Aceh and Nias, a photobook and video documentary was launched here today amidst a function attended by over 200 representatives of development agencies and community representatives.
The colourful celebration in Banda Aceh’s was honoured by the presence of the chairman of the Indonesian Government’s Aceh Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR), Dr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the Assistant Governor of Aceh Province, Usman Budiman and the Vice-Major of Banda Aceh, Mrs. Illiza Saaludin Jamal.
The director of the Regional and Technical Cooperation Division, Daniel Biau, came from Nairobi to commemorate an extraordinarily successful story of collaboration between UN-HABITAT, UNDP, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), BRR and the people of Aceh and Nias and their local representatives. The Aceh Nias Settlements Support Programme (ANSSP) has so far completed 3,500 houses and more than 1,000 are currently under construction.
Daniel Biau stressed in his opening speech the importance of the “People’s Housing Process”, UN-HABITAT’s concept of community participation in the reconstruction process. “After disasters and conflicts, we have learned that the critical challenge is to allow people to return when and where possible, to claim and secure their assets and to assist them in rebuilding institutions strong enough to make the recovery sustainable.”
Photo book cover and photo book picture from the reconstructed village of Lampoh Raya, Aceh Besar
UN-HABITAT’s Team in Banda Aceh has captured the “People’s Housing Process” of ANSSP in a professional photo book and in a video documentary film. The book “Anchoring Homes” portrays communities that are rebuilding their own homes, their settlements and their livelihoods. It shows people at work, women in charge of rebuilding their settlements, men and women who become managers of their own recovery and children who overcome their post disaster trauma. All guests could also enjoy the pictures from the book, the work of young and talented Indonesian photographer Veronica Wiaya, in an exhibition. People who are interested in receiving the photo book can contact UN-HABITAT’s office in Banda Aceh: diella[at]unhabitat-indonesia.org
In his speech Dr. Kuntoro expressed his appreciation for the achievements of the ANSSP and described the enormous difficulties that all parties involved in the recovery process had to face during the last two years. “What we have experienced here together is that the community-based reconstruction is the right approach and we can all be very proud of what we have achieved”.
The audience was also reminded of the difficult circumstances of the recovery work in Aceh by a melancholic song which expressed the feeling of relief that the long lasting conflict in the province has come to an end. The ballade performed by Leni and Serjev from Pidie accompanied a slide-show with touching pictures from the photo-book.
On behalf of the Governor Usman Budiman thanked UNDP and UN-HABITAT for their work and expressed the wish that the good cooperation of all parties involved in the ANSSP shall continue for the challenges ahead. Daniel Biau assured UN-HABITAT’s continuing support: “We are presently discussing a number of support programmes, which focus on strengthening local institutions, which have a mandate to improve the quality of shelter, settlements and urban governance. It would be a great satisfaction and honour if indeed UN-HABITAT can assist the development process in the coming years.”
The celebration ended with the screening of the documentary film “Playing between Elephants”, by film maker Aryo Danusiri and editor Darwin Nugraha. Aryo a young and already accomplished ethnographic film maker spent ten months in the village of Geunting Timur, Pidie district, and documented the ANSSP reconstruction process from the beginning to the end. The film shows the power of the “People’s Process” in action, in particular the struggle of leadership for trust, the use of initiative, courage, occasions of disappointment and problem solving.
The following day Daniel Biau visited the Community Center in Meuraxa, the sub-district of Banda Aceh, which was hit the hardest by the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Here he presented to the Major of Banda Aceh, Mr Mawardy Nurdin a structural spatial plan for the development of Meuraxa. UN-HABITAT had elaborated the plan within a joint programme of several UN-Agencies. For the formulation of the plan, called “Green Meuraxa”, UN-HABITAT had conducted various focus group discussions within the community in order to include local experience. The result is a vision, which combines disaster resilience measures with environmentally friendly development. The green concept cares for the multiple use of the waterfront in Meuraxa, i.e. fish farming, a leisure park and retention areas for potential floods. The Mayor expressed his gratitude and said: “We are looking forward to implementing this excellent plan, which has found such a wide acceptance within the community. This will be a continuation of the good spirit of cooperation, which the City of Aceh has with UN-HABITAT”.