Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

Two years after a massive earthquake hit Nias Island in North Sumatra, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is set to end its recovery and rehabilitation program on the island in December this year, replacing it with a self-reliant program.

UNDP team leader Simon Field said that the organization will not leave the island once the Emergency Response and Transitional Recovery ends in December.

Rather, the UNDP has prepared a new self-reliant program to assist Nias residents, he said. Under the plan, the UNDP will focus its assistance on empowering institutions and local organizations to improve people’s lives.

“The UNDP will run this program until 2009 but we are yet to allocate a budget for the program,” Field told journalists in Medan on Monday.

The UNDP’s chief in Nias, Christian Usfinit, said the decision to end the emergency program, which commenced in Nias on Sept. 15, 2005, was made because many quake victims had been able to rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

He said two years since the devastating quake hit Nias on March 28, 2005, 173 houses have been built and 100 more are being constructed. Over 900 families have benefited from a UNDP family business grant.

“The amount of funding spent by the UNDP for the Emergency Response and Transitional Recovery program will be US$6.7 million. Almost 70 percent of these funds are being used to improve people’s capacity building and the other 30 percent for physical development,” Usfinit said.

In conducting the program the UNDP cooperated with 20 local and international Non Governmental Organizations. Each NGO has a two-year working contract with the UNDP, which will end in December.

He said currently 40 percent of UNDP-sponsored work is unfinished.

“Out target is to complete the Emergency Response and Transitional Recovery program by the end of 2007 and there is no reason for NGOs which are yet to finish their jobs to immediately do so,” Usfinit said.

He said that one of the largest obstacles to running the program had been poor infrastructure, which made it hard to reach various locations. He said many places in Nias had to be reached by walking several kilometers.

However, the UNDP will continue to construct 15km of road in 13 villages, Usfinit said.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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