Habitat tsunami effort gears up in Banda Aceh - Hundreds of homes being built in Indonesia

BANDA ACEH, 16 th May 2005 - In Mulia, a community of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where Habitat for Humanity is building houses with tsunami-affected families, neat stacks of red bricks are a sign of survivors returning to reclaim their former lives in a barren landscape of rubble and ruined buildings.

By early May, 25 houses were under construction of the 700 Habitat staffers plan to build here.

Close to 300 Habitat houses are now being built in seven locations in Aceh. Plans are to complete 10,000 houses in two years for Indonesian tsunami victims.

"We have built the first houses as a test of the design. At the same time, we have been assembling the staff and suppliers we need to scale up our production to complete 300 or more houses a month," said Tots Escalada, Habitat's tsunami response project director in Indonesia.

"This is a traditional house in materials and construction methods, but we've incorporated elements to strengthen it to prevent earthquake damage", Escalada said.

The houses have walls of fired brick with reinforced concrete posts and beams. Roofing is reflective aluminum or a zinc-aluminum alloy. The house measures 38.25 square meters, including an attached toilet with entrance from the outside.

In the next three weeks, Asiah Nuh, her husband Burhanuddin Lubis and their three children will be among the first to return to a permanent house in Mulia. They are good and diligent workers, she says of the men who are laying the last of the bricks for the walls of her house. Asiah and Burhanuddin are sleeping in what had been their kitchen so they can be on the site each day to watch the construction.

Habitat for Humanity has worked in Indonesia since 1997 and has built 500 houses.