JAKARTA, Oct 26, 2007 (AFP) - The reconstruction of Indonesia's Aceh province after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami is nearing completion but survivors of the tragedy still face challenges, officials said Friday.
The agency overseeing the multi-billion-dollar reconstruction of the province at the northern tip of Sumatra island said just over 100,000 houses have been rebuilt, still short of a 120,000 target.
"So there will be no more housing projects or housing construction beyond April 2008, except one or two organisations because their plan goes beyond," said the agency's head Kuntoro Mangkusubroto.
"But it doesn't mean the problem of housing has been solved," he warned, speaking at the launch of a key report on the activities of the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency for Aceh-Nias (BRR).
The agency has been coordinating the complex reconstruction project following the tsunami, which killed 168,000 people in staunchly Muslim Aceh and destroyed houses, roads and other infrastructure.
But some of the houses rebuilt since then are unoccupied or of poor quality, while others still lack essential items such as drainage or electricity, the official said, without providing figures.
"So we understand there are still problems... We are going to solve these problems," he pledged.
Half of the 3,000 kilometres (1,865 miles) of destroyed roads have been rebuilt, 332 of 450 village offices have been reconstructed, seven airports have been upgraded and three new ones completed, data in the report showed.
The BRR's mandate ends in April 2009 and its focus has shifted toward a transition period that will see projects handed back to governments -- in Jakarta, provincial capital Banda Aceh and local districts, Mangkusubroto said.
"Now the question will be, if these facilities are given to the local government, are they prepared for that?" he said.
"So that is what we are now doing: training people, institutional development," he said.
"Seven billion dollars in one province in four years in Indonesia has never happened before -- what happens after that?" he added, referring to the money pledged by international donors for Aceh's reconstruction.
The report was handed to Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Thursday.
Copyright (c) 2007 Agence France-Presse
Banda Aceh (ANTARA News) - International non-governmental organization Save the Children is reported to have built some 41 schools in a number of areas across Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province.
The organization`s spokesman, Mark Fritzler, said here on Friday that of the 41 schools, 19 were already being used for teaching and learning activities.
"We are happy we can help children in Aceh resume their schooling after their school buildings were obliterated by the December 26, 2004 powerful earthquake and the ensuing devastating tsunami," Mark Fritzler said.
He expressed hope that the schools which had been and were going to be built in Aceh would help Aceh children get a better education that would ensure them of a better future.
Constructing the schools in Aceh is part of the Save the Children`s program which covers child protection, provision of health services, livelihood support and public food resilience.
In addition, Save the Children also organized teachers` training and comparative study programs.
Mark said he had also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pidi Jaya district administration through the local education office on the construction of a permanent elementary school at Cot Lheu Rheng village in Trienggadeng sub district.
He said construction of the permanent school was expected to be finished by March 2008.
While waiting for the completion of the permanent school, Mark said, his organization had to build temporary schools to enable local children to continue their studies.
"Although we have to face many challenges, Save the Children will do its best for children in Aceh," Mark said, adding that the organization had been operating in the province for more than 30 years.
The international Save the Children alliance is the world`s largest independent movement for children and works in over 100 countries , often with local and other partner organizations.
Save the Children has been working with conflict-affected people in Indonesia since 1999 and centered its work in Aceh on disaster response following the Indian Ocean tsunami.