When good intentions collide – Impact of the USAID road project in Aceh

The Guardian has a great article titled: Indonesia: Aceh villagers face homelessness again – in name of tsunami aid from US government where they detail the destruction of homes that were erected by charities after the 2004 tsunami in order to make way for a new USAID funded road project from Banda Aceh to Meulaboh.

Months after new quake-proof homes on stilts were built, almost half could be torn down to make way for a coastal highway billed as the US government’s signature project for tsunami reconstruction.

We were in Indonesia about a year ago and I remember driving along this same road and observing as literally half a house was torn down to afford the necessary set back that the new road required.  The mortar on the bricks hadn’t even dried and they were already dismantling the structures.

It is hard to point fingers as the unbelievable sums of money that were made available for tsunami reconstruction actually seemed to make the job of rebuilding more difficult than easier.  I heard numerous complaints from aid workers that they just had too much money and nowhere to spend it.  I am not sure it was a failure of the system rather than a surplus of funding.  We observed rows and rows of houses that were totally abandoned and were told that there was so much housing available that some families had 3rd and 4th homes and they were renting out the spaces they were not living in.

Read on…

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