This afternoon IOM handed over the first nine of thousands of transitional housing units it plans to build in Aceh for vulnerable families made homeless by the December 26th 2004 tsunami. During a ceremony attended by more than 120 people, IOM Indonesia Chief of Mission Steve Cook gave house keys to the first of nine of 107 families currently living with friends and relatives in the village of Tingkeum, a small farming community 15 minutes from central Banda Aceh. The community leaders prioritized these nine families because they were living outside in tents, rather than with host families. Acknowledging the relatively slow pace of construction, Cook said efforts have been made to speed production and meet the acute housing demand in Aceh. "There were frustrations along the way. But we moved as quickly as we could, and here we are today. I am confident that given the logistics, the planning and resources available, that we got it right," he said. Beneficiary Ira Ma'aruf, 26, sobbed after seeing her transitional home for the first time. "Living in the tent was very hard for the children. I always worried that they will get sick form from sleeping on the ground. Praise Allah and thank you for giving us a chance to start a new life," she said.
Umar Dani, one of the headmen of Tingkeum, was also close to tears. "It is so good to be able to provide this service and to work with IOM. With your commitment we will work even harder to get the rest of the homes built for our brothers and sisters," he said.
The Indonesian-designed, four-room, 36-sq/m RISHA II units, which are designed for three years of occupancy, are piped for water, wired for electricity and equipped with a kitchen and bathroom. Made from pre-fabricated concrete components, they can be reconfigured for use as clinics, schools and meeting rooms, and can be disassembled and reassembled in other locations.
The Tingkeum design was widely welcomed by both the beneficiaries and local officials. Thanking IOM, Aceh Besar official Zaini Azis said that hoped for more of the same. "This is the most suitable design for people in Aceh Besar and all over Aceh," he said.
After the tsunami, which left over half a million Acehnese homeless, the Indonesian authorities asked IOM for help to provide transitional housing and IOM agreed in principle to provide up to 11,000 semi-permanent homes, subject to available funding. Production of the first 1,000 units began in Bandung, West Java in March. Three new Aceh-based contractors, with support from IOM quality control experts, will begin manufacturing another 3,000 units this week. A further five Banda Aceh suppliers have signed up to produce another 500 units. As turnkey contractors, the suppliers will also transport the units to sites approved by Aceh's Provincial Public Works Department (PWD) and erect the units. The PWD has already approved three new sites to accommodate up to 708 units and this week agreed to a request for IOM staff to work inside the department to speed the approval process. IOM is also encouraging its Aceh-based suppliers to hire local labour, in particular people displaced or otherwise affected by the tsunami. "I wish my whole family could be here with me at this time, but at least the children now have a good place to stay," said beneficiary Cut Ayah, 52. He had watched helplessly as a massive wave consumed his wife, home and Lageun village on Aceh's west coast where his family had lived for generations. "I do not have the words to describe the joy for what has been done for us today... or the pain of our loss in the tsunami. It is too much to bear," he said.
Paul Dillon, Press and Information Officer, IOM Mobile: +62 812 698 8035 Office: +62 651 7410690 or 7410689 or 7410688 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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