Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) says it’s on track to meet its four year target for public housing, education and agriculture redevelopment.

The agency also says it’s used just under half its total budget of Rp 21 trillion (US$2.3 billion).

It was allocated Rp 2.4 trillion in 2005 and Rp 7.4 trillion in 2006.

In 2007, the budget was set at Rp 9.99 trillion.

BRR estimated reconstruction works would cost $6.1 billion, while the central government, international donors and NGOs have committed some $7.1 billion.

“We have received funds from the central government, donor countries and NGOs,” said BRR chief Kuntoro Mangkusubroto.

The central government established BRR in April 2005 following the 2004 tsunami that destroyed Aceh, and the 2005 earthquake in Nias.

“We have built about 65,000 houses from a targeted 120,000 in Aceh, and 782 schools from a target of 2,006,” Kuntoro said.

In the agriculture sector, BRR has rehabilitated 85 percent of Aceh’s rice fields.

“This is important because the Acehnese people and their economy are very dependent on rice cultivation.”

BRR reported its midterm evaluation Tuesday to stakeholders during the third coordination forum for Aceh and Nias.

Kuntoro noted the agency had exceeded its target of building 127 health facilities because, with the assistance of the UK and Spain, a total of 359 facilities had been built.

More than 17,000 teachers have been trained by BRR to replace the 2,500 who perished in the disasters and the agency has built 1,555 kilometers of new road from a targeted 3,471 kilometers.

But inadequate administration has slowed down land certification. “We have issued certificates for only 23,000 out of 160,000 parcels of land the agency has measured,” Kuntro said.

Despite its claims to success, the agency has been criticized for its patchy reconstruction and for graft inside the projects.

“We all want the projects to be free from corruption.

“However, we cannot deny we found several contractors who abandoned their jobs but we hope this will end,” he told reporters.

Kuntoro said the next two years would see the agency continue to develop the region’s infrastructure, housing and agriculture sectors.

Other challenges for BRR in the future will include the provision of micro-finance training to help strengthen local business.

“Another aspect we are concerned about is the transition of administrative duties when our mandate is over — Aceh will need to manage all administration themselves.”

Aceh is the fourth poorest province in the country with 48 percent of its residents living below the poverty line.

Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Deputy Governor Muhammad Nazar said the provincial administration would have enough personnel to cope with the work when the projects were handed over.

“BRR has done its job well,” Muhammad said.

“They have been serious in rehabilitating and reconstructing both the tsunami-stricken and other areas.”

The Office of the United Nations Recovery Coordinator for Aceh and Nias (UNORC), and its officer in charge of the project, Satya Tripathi, said BRR’s strength was in its willingness to listen to the Acehneese and Nias people.

At the meeting, the agency also discussed several issues for the future, including gender equality, mainstreaming waste and water management, and developing an exit strategy for the project.

Sumber: The Jakarta Post, 25 April 2007

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