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January 19, 2005

In Indonesia, the worst hit country, Habitat’s national office is planning to work in Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra Island, and on Nias, an island to the west of Sumatra. Its strategy involves leveraging on building centers and using trial steel kit homes.

HFH Indonesia expects to open the first of as many as four “disaster response technical” or building and training centers on Sumatra shortly. The first center would open in Medan, probably by early-to-mid February. A satellite center will be established on Nias, where just 300 families need rehousing.

As in India, the centers would be designed to be a base for Habitat staff and volunteer experts in design, engineering, construction and volunteer mobilization. They could also possibly house facilities of partner organizations focusing on community and livelihood issues. The centers would then reach out to support hundreds and later thousands of families with expertise and assistance as they build new homes.

Currently, there are already commitments to fund the building of at least 1,000 homes to begin with, including 300 in Banda Aceh and the 300 in Nias.

HFH Indonesia is examining a plan to use light-gauge steel homes sold, at a discount, by a major Indonesian steel group. The housing would involve a series of 24 sq. m. units.

The first 300 units are likely to be piloted on a new build project in Banda Aceh, funded by a local property association.

In another aspect of its response HFH Indonesia plans to build model “core” homes, in local styles and materials, in 19 displacement camps. (The buildings will be used as clinics and offices in the camps in the short-term.) The aim is to gauge interest in the designs from families who want to rebuild and who have land rights.

In a more recent development, HFH Indonesia has been asked to submit a proposal to United Nations Volunteers, part of United Nations Development Program, for some 200 local and international volunteers. They would fund volunteers to fill such positions as co-ordinators, trainers, materials production supervisors and others, especially in building centers.

HFH Indonesia has received pledges of around US$650,000 from Indonesian and foreign businesses, as well as churches. This is in addition to offers of steel for the initial housing units. There have also been substantial pledges made from real-estate firms and a foreign bank among others.