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Update on tsunami rehabilitation program - Indonesia, Sri Lanka

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News and Press Release
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Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA wishes to thank its donors for the generous contribution they have made to the Tsunami Appeal. To date, the amount received from unions, organisations and individuals stands at $1,217,500.

How Your Aid Money was Spent During the Emergency Phase

During the initial three month emergency phase of the crisis, Union Aid Abroad sent $245,000 to Aceh and Sri Lanka to assist various partners who carried out the following work.

1. Three teams comprising volunteer Indonesian doctors, nurses, paramedics and engineers were sent to Meulaboh, formerly a city of 78,000 people on the west coast of Aceh, to assist those affected by the tsunami. Each team of volunteers worked in the area for two weeks on a rotation basis. The APHEDA-supported teams focused their efforts on the region about 25 kilometres south of Meulaboh. Most of the people in this area are contract or casual workers for the two palm oil plantations in the region.

The medical teams provided emergency health services such as treating wounds and cuts and inoculating for cholera, typhoid and tetanus, as well as providing a free general health service and medical advice to the people for perhaps the first time in their lives. The engineering teams have also played a crucial role. One prerequisite for people to be able to return to their homes and rebuild is access to clean water, and almost all the wells were filled with putrid, contaminated water from the tsunami. The engineering teams pumped out hundreds of wells, removed the rubble, mud and sludge with buckets and scrubbed the insides with chlorine. When the well refilled, a sample was sent to the UN in Meulaboh for testing to ensure it was clean for drinking.

2. Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA also provided emergency assistance through a coalition of 34 Acehnese non-government organisations headed by WALHI, the Indonesian Environment Forum. Funds sent through WALHI were used for community rebuilding on the offshore island of Simuelue.

3. Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA worked with Norwegian People's Aid in the northern part of Sri Lanka to establish and support two camps for internally displaced people.

4. In the south and east of Sri Lanka, Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA supported the mobilisation of several thousand volunteer workers to assist with the distribution of the water, food and medicines to the worst affected communities in the southern and eastern coastal areas. These volunteers were coordinated by the All Ceylon Teachers Services Union.

Long-term Development in Aceh

The scale of devastation in Aceh following the tsunami not only impacted on the infrastructure of the area, but also affected a large percentage of the people with skills and training such as teachers and nurses and people with vocational skills. Many small family businesses were destroyed, so there is also a severe unemployment problem. Your donations are assisting:-

1. A number of Indonesian independent trade unions have combined to form a vocational training centre and have requested Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA assist them with vocational education and training for those unemployed and for workers who have lost their livelihood due to the tsunami. Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA is working with them to assist in the designing of appropriate training curricula, and the provision of training and training materials for vocational education, especially with carpentry, building and construction skills.

2. Humanitarian medical assistance is still being provided and Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA is supporting the Nurses Union in Aceh (PPNI) who have two teams of volunteer doctors and nurses. They are providing health care in five camps for internally displaced people, and have requested assistance with transport and allowances.

3. Through the Achenese NGO, the People's Crisis Centre (PCC), we are assisting vocational skills training for women, especially with sewing and tailoring skills, followed by micro-credit loans to assist those trained to buy a sewing machine and material, and so earn their own income.

4. We have developed a project with WAHLI, a consortium of 34 Acehnese community organisations, who are working on a project with three components; the development of an Environmental Resource Centre, program development and training and public outreach through their webpage and information bulletins. WHALI is concerned that the reconstruction efforts might also devastate Aceh's remaining forests.

Long-term Development in Sri Lanka

We are continuing to work with Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) in the north of Sri Lanka. NPA, along with two other European trade-union based aid agencies and Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA have now moved into the longer-term development phase of rebuilding houses, schools and fishing boats for families affected by the tsunami.

In the south of Sri Lanka we are exploring the possibility of assisting a coalition of 50 Sri Lankan health unions who are helping poor, remote, tsunami affected communities with mobile medical health teams.

The Speed of Reconstruction and Rebuilding in Aceh

A lot has been written regarding the slow speed of reconstruction and rebuilding in Aceh. There are many factors that impinge on the rate of development in Aceh. The first is the timing of the release of the Master Plan for Aceh. In rural areas, some people have already returned to their land and begun rebuilding homes. However, in the major urban centres such as Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, rebuilding has been held up by the late release of the Master Plan for Aceh. The Indonesian government's Master Plan for Aceh was only released in April. It provides the blueprint for rebuilding and reconstructing Aceh for five years from 2004-2009. The coordinating agency of the government responsible for the implementation of the Master Plan was formed only in early May. Until then, no urban-based long-term reconstruction could begin.

Amount of administration on your donations

Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA has charged administration of 9.2% on donations to the tsunami appeal. This has covered costs not only of fundraising, receipting and reporting to donors in Australia, but also expenses such as meeting with Acehnese and Sri Lanka partners and planning the projects they have prioritised, monitoring these projects throughout their life, and evaluating these projects when they are completed. Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA has a Bahasa speaking Australian coordinator based in Aceh.

Contact Details

Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA
Ph: (02) 9264 9343
Fax: (02) 9261 1118
apheda@labor.net.au