World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Aceh: Before the Tsunami

Aceh: Before the Tsunami


Before the tsunami, Aceh was a province of just over four million people, with 221,000 residents in the capital Banda Aceh. The population is 99% Muslim, and Sharia law is applied in places. Politically, no overall party commands the Acehnese vote: support at the last election was divided between PPP (Aceh Besar, Barat, Selatan, Tengah) and Golkar (Aceh Tenggara, Utara, Singkil and Sabang), with pockets of support for PAN (Banda Aceh and Pidie). Only one province, Aceh Tenggara, voted PDI-P.


At 67.7 years, life expectancy was above the national average (66.2), as were literacy rates (95.8% as opposed to the national 89.5%) and years spent in school (7.8, national rate 7.1)*. Unemployment was 6.2%. Comparison with figures from 1999 show that Aceh was showing year on year improvements in all these areas.

1999 2002
Life Expectancy 67.6 67.7
Adult literacy rate 93.1 95.8
Mean years of schooling 7.2 7.8


Female literacy rates were 94.1%, compared to a national average of 85.7% and the percentage of women in senior official, managerial and technical staff positions was, at 45%, higher than in Jakarta (35%). The percentage of women overall in employment was also higher than Jakarta at 49% (Jakarta 36.6%).


The indices show that Aceh was having some success in eradicating poverty, but major problems existed. Some 48% of people had no access to clean water in 2002, an improvement on the 61.5% in 1999 but still below the national average of 44%, and a third of all households had no access to sanitation (national average 25 %). 35.2% of children under five were recorded as being under nourished in 2002, again considerably more than the national figure of 25.8% and no improvement on 1999 (35.6%). There were also particular problems in areas affected by the conflict with GAM, which also meant there was an existing issue with internally displaced persons prior to the tsunami.


Health access was a major problem, with 38% having no access to health facilities, a figure that had actually marginally increased since 1999 (37.6%) and well below the national average of 23.1%. Infant mortality, while below the national average of 43.5 per 1000, was still 36.1 and nearly a quarter of the population (24.6%) was recorded as having health problems.

In terms of future development, there are two major messages to take from these figures. One is that even without the tsunami, Aceh was a province with urgent development needs. The other is that the vast amounts of money, resources and international support flowing into the region present an opportunity to improve the lives of the Acehnese people in the long term. There is huge potential for the reconstruction of the province post-tsunami to lead not to the restoration of Aceh as it was before December 26th, but to a province-wide improvement in the quality of life.

*All figures are taken from UNDP’s National Human Development Report, “The Economics of Democracy,” published in 2004. The full report is available from UNDP’s website at

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news