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Today, Baiturrahman Mosque stands as a
testament to Aceh’s survival.
“The mosque is very, very important,” Mr
“They say the mosque that is still there,
for them it is like a miracle.
“This is the first word if you communicate
with them about [it].”
He said the tragedy had shaped the area.
“The tsunami has really affected the way
[people in] Aceh face life,” he said.
“They realise the limitedness of human
beings … all you have in life can disappear in a second.
“They are the witness of this traumatic
situation … so people have a strong bond with each other with this collective
People still going hungry in Aceh,
Despite rebuilding efforts, concern has
been raised about the effectiveness of reconstruction.
John McCarthy, associate professor at the
Crawford School of Public Policy at Australian NationalUniversity,
said some people living in Aceh at the moment are running out of food.
“We found above 50 per cent of people were
still suffering a hunger season,” he said.
He said this occured in the area where, on
average, there had been about 10 livelihood projects per village in the
“The donors and the NGO community had
spent about $7.5 billion on the post-tsunami intervention,” he said.
“To have such a high-profile and one of
the biggest development interventions in developing countries ever, how were
they able to achieve, from our perspective, such poor livelihood outcomes?
“We were quite surprised by that really.”
Associate Professor McCarthy said many of
the aid projects had short timelines which had contributed to the problem.
“They just had to spend as quickly as they
could. They were all competing with each other,” he said.
“I think these projects could have
achieved a lot more if they weren’t in such a rush, if they wanted to develop
longer-term partnerships, and try and think more carefully through what might
be done to alleviate this vulnerability.”
He said locals talk about “three
“The tsunami when the wave struck; the
tsunami that followed, which was the tsunami of aid money and aid agencies; and
then the third tsunami was when they all poured out,” he said.
“The Acehnese don’t blame the aid agencies
but they do see it as a lost opportunity.
“When I was there 10 years earlier [before
the tsunami], things were way, way in front of where they are now. There is no
reason why these villages along the west coast of Aceh should be as food
insecure as they are.”
In response to criticisms, Mr Suratin said
he believed life in the area had improved.
“It is incomparable. In general the
situation in Aceh is better than the situation in other parts of the country,”