Survey finds Nias survivors feel abandoned

Sunday, December 24, 2006
By nias

Ary Hermawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Eight out of every 10 people in Nias, North Sumatra, are unsatisfied with the rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the tsunami-ravaged region, according to a survey.

The Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) found that only 21 percent of 419 Nias respondents saw improvement in the construction of main roads, while only nine percent said their water and sanitation was better since the reconstruction projects started last year.“The figure is far lower than what we found in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam,” LSI researcher Anis Baswedan said.

In Aceh, 43 percent of 809 people polled felt the government “had done a lot” to restore their province, a significant rise from 27 percent in 2005. In Nias, only 13 percent had the same perception, a drop from 18
percent in the previous year.

“Does the finding indicate that the attention given to Nias is less than that given to Aceh?” Anis wondered.
LSI concluded that in general most Acehnese believed the performance of the Aceh-Nias Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency was improving.

Positive perceptions of the agency among people there rose from 39 percent in 2005 to 60 percent in 2006.

More than half of respondents in Aceh said the reconstruction of schools and places of worship was improving. However, only 28 percent believed the agency had done well at building sanitation systems.

Only 42 percent of the Acehnese polled said they were satisfied with the agency’s overall performance.

Agency head Kuntoro Mangkusubroto said he appreciated the LSI’s findings and would use them to evaluate the agency’s performance. “But we must not worry about people’s perceptions, ” said Kuntoro, saying the agency faced many difficulties in doing its job.

He explained that problems involving regional authorities and lack of coordination among regencies in the two provinces had made sanitation construction difficult.

The agency has built 57,000 houses out of a targeted 78,000. It is now building another 22,000 houses, which are expected to be finished by March next year.

According to the agency, 11,703 families are still living in barracks and shelters. “We hope that by the middle of 2007, they can get out of there,” Kuntoro said.

Out of US$7.1 billion pledged by international donors, $5.9 billion has been allocated for various reconstruction projects in Aceh and Nias.

Kuntoro said that showed the international community trusted the agency.

People in Nias, he said, had long been upset with the government for not declaring the quake that hit the region a national disaster. “I have to admit that less attention has been paid to them,” he added.

Teuku Nurlif, a Golkar lawmaker from Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, said the scope of people’s perceptions was unclear. He suggested the agency focus on its priorities and produce things that could be valued quantitatively.

“The agency must not lose its focus. They have to tell us what they are going to do in 2007 and 2008,” he said.

Source: The Jakarta Post 

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