Agreement to Seal IOM-BRR Cooperation
IOM's Construction Services (CS) section has entered the final phase of a two-month reorganization process that will streamline operations and support a new cooperative agreement between the Organization and the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency for Aceh and Nias (BRR). Following a recent meeting with IOM Chief of Mission Steve Cook, BRR Director Kuntoro Mangkusubroto provided a letter outlining BRR's commitment to establish a joint unit with IOM to identify and prioritize communities in need and locations for reconstruction of those communities.
The unit will also collaborate on land mapping and site design, and coordinate logistics, procurement and labor issues. Most importantly, the agreement will ensure full community engagement and agreement in the decision-making process that would ultimately lead to permanent land-titling for the beneficiaries.
This important new development will improve IOM's ability to meet the long-term housing needs of Aceh's tsunami-affected population by ensuring with BRR that settlements are located in serviced areas suitable for permanent occupation.
The review and reorganization has also resulted in qualitative changes to the types of materials IOM will use in its permanent housing model.It is likely that aerated concrete blocks will replace bricks currently used in the construction of permanent homes, and that steel roof trusses will substitute the current wooden ones. The current modular cement construction uses very little timber. The use of steel is in keeping with IOM's commitment to build environmentally benign homes, and will greatly reduce the use of wood products.
Operationally, IOM's CS section has been busy reconfiguring the existing successful transitional shelter program to build permanent homes throughout Aceh, investing heavily in the pre-planning stage of 1,032-unit development in Bireuen, and preparing for a new school construction project on Nias island, North Sumatra, on behalf of UNICEF.
IOM has built over 140 temporary elementary schools around Aceh as part of an agreement signed in June with UNICEF. Plans call for the construction of a further 75 schools on 43 different locations around Nias. The necessary building materials are being transported by truck and ship from IOM contractor factories in neighbouring Aceh.
Unit Expands to Meet New Challenges
The Community Liaison Unit (CLU) has entered a period of rapid growth with the arrival of a new unit head and the ongoing hiring of additional national field staff.
Staffing levels are increasing to reflect the need for closer district-level collaboration with IOM's Construction Services Task Force, greater interaction with the growing number of beneficiary communities and improved coordination with donors and project partners.
One of the catalysts for CLU's expanded operations has been the increasingly close relationship between IOM and BRR staff responsible for settlements in Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar district - a focal area of construction services to date - in preparation for the forthcoming MoU with BRR.
On 15 March, IOM entered into a partnership with the Latter Day Saints Church (LDSC) to build more than 1,000 permanent housing units for displaced people living on the east coast of Aceh province. The community development aspects of the project emphasize the involvement of women at all stages of the process.
Building a Better Future
Livelihood Support Unit
The wood and rattan sheds at the Cot Paya brick factory in Aceh province are slowly filling with the building blocks of the community's future prosperity.
Outside a pair of fat buffalo with hooves the size of dinner plates tamp down the soil to a thick grey clay that a group of female pieceworkers carve into standard-sized bricks and stack to dry for several weeks. A threemetre- high kiln sits nearby waiting to heat the bricks.
Located a short distance from IOM's 150-unit Cot Paya settlement in Kajhu outside Banda Aceh, the start-up capital for the factory was provided by the Organization after villagers identified brick-making as a key pre-tsunami livelihood activity. At peak production it will produce 180,000 bricks every three months, all of which will be bought by IOM's expanding construction services unit.
"It's a good business and God willing we will be successful and increase the number of factories so it will be like before the tsunami," says plant supervisor Nadianur.
IOM's AusAid and USAID-funded livelihood support activities were operational in Aceh province prior to the tsunami, targeting communities displaced by decades of conflict.
Since that time it has emerged as a key element of the Organization's post-tsunami operations reaching an estimated 3,200 households over the past 14 months with animal husbandry initiatives, agriculture- ,fisheries- and small business training, and equipment for everything from fish-delivery services and baking to the production of medicinal oils. The intent is for residents of all IOM's emerging settlement areas to have sustainable livelihood programs.
To that end, the livelihood support unit (LSU) is developing major pilot projects in 12 tsunami- and/or conflict-affected districts. The first projects have begun in Aceh Besar, Pidie, Aceh Tenggara and Aceh Singkil, while the rest will be launched in April.
Farmers in the village of Keureng Ewe, Aceh Besar, are being weaned of the use of environmentally unsound plastic as a cover for their chili crops in favor of mulch made of discarded rice stalks, cardboard and banana peels to improve both yields and soil quality.
Plans are also underway to build a swing bridge to connect the village to its farmlands, cutting the 10 km round trip to 10 minutes.
In the village of Batee in Pidie, LSU helped the animal husbandry group build a goat treatment hut that will serve as the feeding, medication and weighing area. This was completed after a number of the 90 goats IOM provided to the community sickened and died from a mysterious ailment.
The project has introduced the village to the advantages of an aquaponics system, a technique for food production that combines two existing proven methods - hydroponics for plants and aquaculture for seafood - into a symbiosis. It is the perfect solution for areas with high salinity.
The first phase involves the introduction of an innovative new system of shrimp farming that should increase the yield of black tiger prawns fourfold to 1.2 tonnes each quarter by dramatically improving the immature shrimp's survival rate.
The resulting "closed system" of shrimp rearing also produces a rich sludge that is an excellent source of nutrients for hydroponic plants. The construction of the hydroponic tanks (for fishing, planting and settling) was completed 19 March.
A local women's cooperative has also been trained to manufacture organic fertilizer in pellet form that can reduce the reliance upon chemical fertilizer, and has been shown to improve the soil quality and increase yields on Indonesian farms as far away as Kalimantan.
Once the community is convinced of the effectiveness of the new product, known as bokasih, there is an excellent opportunity to expand sales to other IOM livelihood sites as well as the local market.
IOM is providing training and the necessary equipment to allow fish farmers in Brandeng village in remote Aceh Tenggara to produce their own fish feed thus reducing the reliance on outside sources. In neighboring Aceh Singkil, 138 households in Lae Simolap village are being helped to create a communal farming system that will maximize the use of available land, and deal with a chronic problem with wild pigs raiding their gardens.
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