From Relief to Long-term Rehabilitation and Reconstruction UN-HABITAT to work on long term recovery of Banda Aceh and Nias in Indonesia

2 May, 2005, Medan, Indonesia: UN-HABITAT, the agency within the United Nations that is charged with the responsibility of human settlements development and post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation, signed two letters of intent with the Provincial Government of North Sumatra and the Provincial Government of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam in Indonesia, to help with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Banda Aceh which was affected by the tsunami on December 2004, and the island of Nias which suffered from an earthquake in March of this year. While in Indonesia, Mrs. Tibaijuka also announced that UN-HABITAT is to begin the Aceh Settlement Support Programme (ASSP), in support of the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) emergency response and transitional recovery in Aceh.
Letters of intent

The letters of intent pave the way for a working relationship between the national and regional governments of Indonesia and UN-HABITAT in setting up mechanisms for the transition from relief to rehabilitation reconstruction. In particular it calls upon UNHABITAT to extend assistance to the provincial governments in organizing the housing and rehabilitation of the affected communities in order to build sustainable settlements that are also disaster-resilient. UN-HABITAT is also requested to make every effort to mobilize international resources.

The letters were signed during the official visit of Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT to Banda Aceh and to Gunung Sistoli, Nias. Signing ceremonies took place in both locations attended by Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka and the Governor Abu Bakar of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, in Banda Aceh and the Governor Rizal Nurdin, Governor of North Sumatra Province, in the city of Medan.

The signing ceremonies came at the same time as the national government announced its Blue Print for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation. The letters of intent also follow on from the successful conclusion of the Lake Toba Summit on Global Partnership on Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Post-Disaster Settlements which was held on 10 - 12 March.

"Once the humanitarian crisis is over, the cameras tend to leave just as the real hard work starts. I have therefore come to Banda Aceh and Nias at this critical time to see for myself how UN-HABITAT can help with the transition from relief to reconstruction," said Mrs. Tibaijuka. "I am particularly pleased to be here at the same time as the launch of the Indonesian Government's Blue Print for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in order to see how we can support the national government in implementing their plans." Mrs. Tibaijuka commended the resilience and commitment of the people of Banda Aceh, Nias and the other affected communities in surviving the recent disasters. In Banda Ache over 125,000 people died as a result of the tsunami on 26 December 2004. In Nias, as a result of an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the richter scale which hit on 28 March 2005, over 900 people died and many houses and building were destroyed. Mrs. Tibaijuka continued to say that though it was not easy to put back a society after such destruction and devastation, UNHABITAT was there for the long haul. Post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation involves a long and complex process that includes everything from meeting the urgent need for land, designing and building affordable housing, ensuring the implementation of building codes to raising the necessary finances.

Aceh Settlement Support Programme (ASSP)

While in Banda Aceh, Mrs. Tibaijuka also announced that UN-HABITAT has been developing a program with the Government of Indonesia called the Aceh Settlement Support Programme (ASSP), in support of the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) emergency response and transitional recovery in Aceh. The programme will address housing, spatial planning, and infrastructural issues of the overall reconstruction process.

The approach of the ASSP is to link emergency relief to reconstruction, through assisting local government and affected communities in Community Action Planning process on land and micro-settlement issues, housing and infrastructure reconstruction, and risk protection measures. Technical support, financial assistance and community-based training will be provided for reconstruction of disaster-resilient, sustainable communities, where displaced people can be re-housed as soon as possible. In post-disaster situations, rehabilitation is a complex and sensitive issue. In addition, labour intensive methods of reconstruction are expected to help restore livelihoods of the affected communities.

"UN-HABITAT looks forward to working with the local authorities in the region to design comprehensive strategy that will include the concerns of the people who have been so badly affected," said Mrs. Tibaijuka. "The priority has to reflect the needs of those who are now displaced and homeless and to integrate their concerns into longterm sustainable development of human settlements which will be disaster resilient."

For further information, please contact: Sharad Shankardass, Spokesperson & Head, Press & Media Relations Unit, or Ms. Zahra Hassan, Media Liaison, Tel: (254 20) 623153, 623151, Fax: 624060, E-mail:, Website: Numbers in Mauritius: 254 733 760 332 and 230 716 7503