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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Indonesia: Banda Aceh nine months after the tsunami

© UNICEF/ HQ05-0310/Josh Estey
Girls attend a class at Ketapang Dua Aceh Besar School in Banda Aceh, capital of Aceh Province.

By Dan Thomas

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, 23 September 2005 – Surrounded by the rubble of what used to be a thriving community, four Acehnese schoolgirls play volleyball. Serving as the volleyball court is the tiled floor of a bulldozed house.

For these girls, sport is more than just a welcome diversion during a busy school day. It also helps them cope with the emotional stress of living in Banda Aceh - bringing a moment of normality to a situation which is still far from normal.

Nine months after the tsunami struck, the rubble of wrecked homes and schools is still everywhere but there are signs that the community in Banda Aceh is picking itself up. The Pasar Aceh market in the town centre is once again open for business and local fishermen are hard at work bringing in the daily catch.

But despite such signs, the ubiquitous ruins and rubble serve as a constant reminder of the day nature struck, killing around 170,000 people in Aceh Province alone. Around one third of the victims were children.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2005/Rusdia
Sharks for sale at Banda Aceh’s Fish Market.

School construction project

On 9 September, UNICEF’s plans to build or repair at least 350 permanent schools across tsunami-hit Aceh and North Sumatra were approved by the Indonesian Government’s Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency.

Work on the $90 million project is now underway, with the first permanent school being built in Banda Aceh. The school building project, in which UNICEF has committed itself to build up to 500 new permanent schools in total in Aceh and North Sumatra, is likely to take at least three years to complete.

The new schools will be better and more child-friendly than those destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami of 26 December 2004. The latest seismic-resistant building techniques and materials will be employed. Pupils will have access to brighter classrooms, separate latrines for boys and girls, and fresh drinking water. Where the parents and teachers have requested it, some will also include libraries in their designs.

The locations of the schools and the designs of the new buildings have all been chosen in close consultation with nearby communities and teachers. Each school will have a bespoke design.

View UNICEF’s plans  for one of the first new permanent schools (pdf) to be built in Banda Aceh.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2005/Rusdia
A temporary school built by UNICEF. In addition to temporary schools, UNICEF has committed to build up to 500 new permanent schools in Aceh and North Sumatra.

Grass-roots driven

Some 230 sites have already been identified for the building of new schools and another 137 damaged schools pinpointed for refurbishment and modernization. UNICEF has worked on this project in close partnership with the Indonesian and Aceh provincial government.

UNICEF’s Representative for Indonesia, Gianfranco Rotigliano, said: “These schools are a good example of how UNICEF is building back better, building schools to a higher standard than those that existed before.

“We’ve also worked closely with the people. This has been grass-roots driven. From the parents to the local political leaders, everyone has had a say in the designs of the schools.”

The school building work will be carried out on UNICEF’s behalf by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

This UNICEF project is in addition to the building of 200 new temporary schools across the two provinces. Many of these have already been completed.




23 September 2005:
UNICEF correspondent Dan Thomas reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia on efforts to help children nine months after the tsunami struck.

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23 September 2005:
UNICEF staff in Banda Aceh take the listener on a tour of sites where UNICEF is helping to rebuild children’s lives and communities.

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