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Community dialogue in tsunami-affected Indonesia

Nia Sarinastiti's picture

Multi-Donor Fund outreach officer holds a dialogue with community representatives in Kecamatan Bintang Takengon, Central Aceh.
I have been traveling a lot to Aceh since August 2005 – about half a year since the tsunami and earthquake struck the Aceh province. Between those three years, I have mostly visited Banda Aceh, the capital of the province. Not until 2008 that I was able to visit more into the inland. I took advantage of an activity that the Multi-Donor Fund secretariat would do once a month as part of its outreach program. The program includes a visit to communities where activities may include conversations with beneficiaries, community dialogues, a radio talk show or meetings with the city leaders.

One of the visits was to Takengon in Central Aceh – a community affected more by the prior- and post-tsunami earthquakes than by the tsunami itself. From Banda Aceh, the trip takes about eight hours of driving, in which two hours are mostly on highland roads with steep turns. The weather there is different than in Banda Aceh; much cooler and very fresh air.
 
The first MDF funded program in Takengon is the Kecamatan Development Program (KDP), which focuses on community-based reconstruction efforts to help rebuild community infrastructure. That program was followed by Support for Poor and Disadvantaged Areas (SPADA), a program that links the participatory sub-district planning process of KDP to district government decision-making, and provides block grants to improve public services and the recovery of economic infrastructure.

We also visited Bintang, a village at the northern tip of Lake Takengon. As the team headed towards the village, they learned that although fishing is one of the community’s livelihood sources, lakeside restaurants were closed. “The restaurants operate only on the weekends,” said a local fisherman, “Our weekday job is tending to our small plantations – rubber, coffee and chocolate.” Only a few fishermen could be seen out on the lake, trying to catch “depik,” a popular local fish.

In Bintang, KDP and SPADA facilitators worked to socialize a new program to the community, called the National Program for Community Empowerment (PNPM), which is the extended and integrated version of the two current programs. During the session, the MDF secretariat received input on the impact of KDP and SPADA on the communities and areas where more community assistance is needed.

A meeting with local government ended the day. Officials thanked the MDF for helping their communities and expressed their wishes that more grants be made available to assist remote villages, especially those that were also affected by the conflict.