Indonesia: Over 100,000 villagers benefit from central highlands community peace programme

Banda Aceh, Indonesia - Over 100,000 villagers have benefited from infrastructure and livelihood projects in the former conflict-affected districts of Aceh's central highlands through the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) community peace programme.

Two of these projects - Pantan Tengah Primary School and Ronga-Ronga markets - which have been built by residents from nearby villagers will be officially opened on Wednesday June 20th.

Pantan Tengah Primary School, was the infrastructure project chosen by six villages as part of the US$4 million dollar, USAID- funded community peace projects aimed at promoting reconciliation in the heavily conflict- affected Bener Meriah and Aceh Tengah districts.

Under this community peace programme, 169 villages have built or chosen infrastructure projects such as schools, pre-schools, markets, irrigation systems and bridges benefiting 96,700 people, and 166 villages have chosen income generating projects such as vegetable farming, which has benefiting 3,700 people, or a total 100,400 people.

Pantan Tengah Primary School, was built by local contractor, CV Viyatama, which like all contractors for these community projects was chosen through an open process, which favours contractors who employ community members, women and former combatants in the construction of the project.

Out of 765 labourers constructing the 49 infrastructure projects, 121 are former combatants. Widows and female victims of Aceh's long running conflict are targeted via the income-generating projects.

"Almost half, or 47 percent of the farmers involved in these projects are women, most of whom are chosen by their community as conflict affected, that is they're widows, or they lost their houses or other assets during the conflict," says project manager James Bean.

The Ronga-Ronga sub-district market was chosen as a joint project by villagers in Timang Gajah, Meriah Jaya and Umah Besi, to replace the old, very run-down market.

For Joni Suryawan, a former combatant from Ronga-Ronga who was one of hundreds of villagers not only involved in choosing the project, but also in building it, the market stalls were a lesson in a new way of operating.

"I think this was very good for democracy, it was a good way for people in the community to learn about democracy," says the tanned former combatant.

"Through this process we learn what is important for this village," adds Surywan.

Pantan Tengah Primary School, Bener Meriah will be opened at 9am, Wednesday 20th June 2007

Ronga-Ronga Markets, Bener Meriah will be opened at 10.30 am, Wednesday 20th June 2007

For more information please contact:

Marianne Kearney
Post-Conflict Reintegration Information Officer
IOM Banda Aceh
Tel +62 812 698 9308