Cash recovery programme for Indonesia

British Red Cross logistics expert Ian Heigh recently returned from Indonesia, where an innovative cash recovery programme is helping 10,000 families in Aceh rebuild their lives after the tsunami.

This method of support empowers people who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods to make decisions about rebuilding their lives.

Ian said: "The problem isn't about available resources but lack of money to buy them, which is why we have chosen to set up a cash programme. Handing over money as opposed to goods is a bold project and unique to the Red Cross."

When the tsunami flattened the coastal communities in Aceh people lost everything, including their identity papers. Working with the Indonesian Red Cross, the British Red Cross has helped nearly 800 people get identity cards from the government so far. This important first step enables individuals and families to register for the cash recovery programme.

On registration, participants are given an initial sum of money allowing them time to plan how they would like to recover from the tsunami.

Ian said: "We sit down with the community and help them plan their village - mapping out what was where and who had what land. Once agreed, we go to the government to legally secure land tenure. We also consider preparing for future disasters when designing the houses."

Families present their recovery plan on their choice of houses and how they intend to restart their livelihoods. Once the plan has been agreed a contract will be drawn up which will include a payment schedule. Money is put into their bank accounts at each stage and their progress monitored by Indonesian Red Cross volunteers.

We are holding ongoing discussions with the affected communities about whether they will rebuild their houses themselves or use specialist contractors.