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Indonesia: UN To Help Long-term Housing Needs

UN To Help With Long-Term Housing Needs In Disaster-Affected Areas Of Indonesia

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has entered into separate agreements with the authorities of two Indonesian provinces to help rebuild homes and ensure disaster-resilient shelters in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami and a recent earthquake.

UN-HABITAT, charged with post-disaster reconstruction and promoting adequate housing for all, signed letters of intent Monday with the Provincial Governments of both North Sumatra and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam to help with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Banda Aceh, which was severely affected by the December 2004 tsunami, and the island of Nias, which was hit by an earthquake just two months ago.

The letters were signed during an official visit by UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka to Banda Aceh and to Gunung Sistoli in Nias. The agreements pave the way for a working relationship between the national and regional governments of Indonesia and the agency in setting up mechanisms for the transition from relief to rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The agreement calls on UN-HABITAT 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.

"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 Ms. Tibaijuka.

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

Ms. Tibaijuka stressed that though it was not easy to put back a society after such destruction and devastation, UN-HABITAT was there for the long haul. Post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation involved 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, she said.

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