Indonesia

Indonesia: Peace building programme benefits communities in Aceh

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More than 100,000 villagers have so far benefited from a USAID-funded infrastructure and livelihood programme aimed at promoting peace and reconciliation in Aceh's former conflict-affected districts of Bener Meriah and Aceh Tengah.

Under this programme, 169 villages have completed or chosen infrastructure projects such as schools, pre-schools, markets, irrigation systems and bridges that are directly benefiting 96,700 people. A further 166 villages have chosen income generating projects such as vegetable farming, which are helping an additional 3,700 people.

Pantan Tengah Primary School and Ronga-Ronga market are two of the most recent projects completed by residents from nearby villagers who have been particularly affected by the 29-year conflict between Indonesian security forces and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Violence in the ethnically diverse Aceh's central highlands was particularly intense, often pitting ethnic groups against each other, villages against each other, and even neighbour against neighbour.

The Ronga-Ronga sub-district market was chosen as a joint project by villagers in Timang Gajah, Meriah Jaya and Umah Besi to replace an old and run-down one. Vendors say business has already picked up following Wednesday's opening of the new structure.

"During the conflict, I didn't feel safe to sell here. But now it's different, it's really clean and the market is very busy. Plus my income has risen," says a 50-year-old vegetable seller.

The peace building programme also provides employment to conflict affected groups. "The programme seeks to provide employment to former combatants and especially to vulnerable groups such as widows and female victims of the conflict," says IOM project manager, James Bean.

Almost half of the beneficiaries involved in the income-generating projects such as organic farming are women who were identified by their communities as widows or women who lost their houses and assets.

For more information please contact Marianne Kearney at IOM Banda Aceh, Tel +62 812 698 9308, Email: mkearney@iom.int

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