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Indonesia, Aceh and Nias Recovery Program


Implementation of programs in response to the tsunami and quake disaster. The nature of Supras’ involvement was a reconnaissance and study mission. That is, Supras was invited to visit selected project activities in and around Meulaboh, and to present views on the current state of project implementation, in particular in connection with efforts to move away from focusing on recovery and reconstruction, and instead address concerns in connection with development per se. The mission took place in early July 2006.

This transition phase is sometimes couched in terms of a shift from an emergency response to a recovery program. The difference, semantic and otherwise, between “emergency” and “recovery” appears to be understood as small, and furthermore do not seem to get at the essence of the term “development”, which is quite different from “recovery”, “reconstruction” and “emergency”. The preferred choice among these for what needs to take place now is clearly “development.” This transition is one that the multitude of foreign development actors currently active along the northwestern part of Sumatra are facing. This transition requires a different way of thinking, a different mindset, different skills, and it raises more expectations as regards program quality. For many actors in Aceh, whether international or Indonesian, it boils down to whether to continue or not. Many will – and, actually, should – opt out. For others, it is a question of reassessing and take stock of what have been done so far, find out what is really needed from this point onwards, and what the local people want, and how they want it. For these agencies, they may likely find that they have spread themselves too thin, and need to consolidate and focus. Also, the type of approaches utilized will need some rethinking. The rationale and approaches that are part and parcel of the early – and very necessary – concern with recovery and reconstruction, will fast have to give way to approaches and concerns that are more culturally specific and sensitive, including, among them, gender-specific concerns, while also taking on longer-term perspectives and using others tool, for example, small-scale and revolving credit schemes.


I arrived on Sumatra from Bali, where I had participated in the biannual conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons (IASC). A very interesting workshop at the conference was devoted to these issues, and some of the papers are available (see page Aceh).