Written by: Ilham Nugraha
The earthquake, and subsequent tsunami and soil liquefaction that struck the region around Palu City in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, in September 2018 killed over 4,000 people and damaged tens of thousands of homes, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The AHA Centre, in accordance with the mandate given by the ASEAN Leaders in the One ASEAN One Response Declaration, played a leading role as the regional coordinating agency for ASEAN Member States and also agencies from outside the region at the time of the tragedy. Since then the AHA Centre has been involved in ongoing recovery activities, among which has been the development of the ASEAN Village to rehouse residents affected by the disaster in Tondo, Palu.
On 7 April 2021, the AHA Centre, together with the head representatives of ASEAN Member States and respective partners, had the honour of witnessing the virtual handover ceremony for Phase 2 construction of the ASEAN Village, comprising 25 permanent houses, an auxiliary health centre and a mosque, to the Government of Palu City. The ASEAN Village is funded by the people of Brunei Darussalam and the Government of the Philippines with additional support from the Government of Australia, and Direct Relief.
Executive Director of the AHA Centre Ms Adelina Kamal highlighted the essential support received by the AHA Centre from its partners for the previous phase, which is already being utilised by the affected communities in Palu.
“In the early recovery period and after closely coordinating with the local government, it was agreed that the construction of permanent houses in the ASEAN Village would be carried out in Palu City. For this, we are very grateful to the Palu City administration for its permission and giving us an area in which to build permanent houses for the ASEAN Village in Tondo. Starting with joint coordination with the Palu City administration, the available funds were sufficient for the construction of the first phase of the ASEAN Village, consisting of 75 units of 36 m2 permanent houses using Conwood materials and technology. After the ground-breaking on August 6, 2019, the construction of the first phase of the ASEAN Village was completed in March 2020 and we handed this over to the Palu City administration virtually on April 16, 2020, and now the houses are being utilised by disaster-affected residents in Palu”.
She added that the Phase 2 construction through collaborative support from the AHA Centre and its partners provided the additional 25 homes and the two facilities in the area so that the residents could access health care and a place of worship. “The AHA Centre received another contribution from the people of Brunei Darussalam for the second phase of the ASEAN Village construction. This contribution has been utilised to build a mosque. This additional contribution from the people of Brunei Darussalam and some savings from the contribution by the Government of the Philippines, was then utilised to build the additional 25 houses. We would like to convey our special gratitude to PT Conwood Indonesia for finishing the construction of the additional permanent houses within budget and using good quality materials.”
As part of this second phase, the AHA Centre received contributions from Direct Relief to build the auxiliary health centre, fitted out with medical equipment. Previously, there was neither a mosque nor health facilities in the Tondo area. The Australian Government also agreed to continue its contribution to the operational funds of the AHA Centre.
”I represent Palu City and I express our happiness and pride in the AHA Centre. I hope this happiness can also be felt by survivors who will find real new optimism through the basic needs of a proper home that is safe from disaster, complete with fully equipped health facilities and a place of worship. We do hope people can benefit from this and utilise these facilities before Ramadhan” said Palu Mayor Mr H. Hadianto Rasyid in his opening speech at the ceremony. He also hoped that the work and support of the AHA Centre and its partners could inspire other organisations and be a model for good intervention in fulfilling the basic needs of affected communities in Palu.
As part of the ongoing series of construction projects, the AHA Centre’s next plan is to complete the construction of gates and monuments, which will then mark the “official launch” of the ASEAN Village, tentatively scheduled for June 2021. The official launch will be attended both offline when conditions are amenable, and online.