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More than 25,000 families in Aceh still waiting for land and homes, Oxfam says

More than 25,000 families in Aceh still waiting for land and homes, Oxfam says

May 10, 2010

"Nearly two years after the tsunami struck, enormous strides towards recovery have been made, but the poorest people of Aceh squatters, renters and women are still wondering when and where they will be resettled," said Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada.

Despite the problems, more than a third of the 128,000 houses needed have been built, turning Aceh into one of the largest reconstruction project in the developing world. Aceh, the northern province of the island of Sumatra, was most severely affected by the tsunami that struck on Dec. 26, 2004. Around 169,000 people were killed and 600,000 were made homeless when141,000 houses were destroyed.

The Oxfam report highlights difficulties that must be tackled, including:

  • Most land titles in the province were destroyed or made illegible
  • Most people lost all their identification documents
  • Up to 15 per cent of western Aceh’s agricultural land may be permanently lost
  • A huge number of inheritance claims must be resolved
  • The trees and paths which marked out plots of land were washed away.

‘Sorting out who owns the land is essential to avoid problems in the future," Fox said. "This can be a desperately difficult and slow process. Oxfam has been working with villagers to help people decide how to reallocate land so everyone has somewhere to live."

Around 10,000 families who owned property before the tsunami need resettling because their land became submerged or was ruined. Some 15,000 poorer Acehnese families, who rented their homes or squatted on state or private land, do not qualify for government land or housing, but are being given a cash grant. Oxfam fears this money will be eaten up by inflation before a new house is ready for them.

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