The Publication of Habitat for Humanity International | December 2007
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Habitat houses in Peunaga Rayeuk village in Meulaboh, Indonesia, were built using earthquake-resistant design.

Looking to the Long-Term

Asian tsunami recovery continues and expands

By Hiew Peng Wong

For many people, news of the April 2007 tsunami and earthquake that shook the Solomon Islands — and left an estimated 4,000 families homeless — evoked a familiar sense of dread. Memory of lives and property swallowed by the relentless waves of an Asian tsunami remained vivid, reviving thoughts of the December 2004 disaster that wrecked the shores of India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Habitat for Humanity’s tsunami-recovery efforts in the area continue. Overall, plans are in place and resources are in hand to help some 21,000 families find permanent housing by the end of 2008. Accomplishments throughout the Asia/Pacific region include:

The tsunami program in Indonesia has helped nearly 4,570 families build, rehabilitate and repair homes. In June 2007, Habitat Indonesia marked the 1,500th house constructed in response to the tsunami in Meulaboh, on the west coast of Sumatra.

Amid ongoing strife in Sri Lanka, Habitat continues to rebuild homes with tsunami-affected families. Currently, the program is moving toward house repairs in order to extend the available funds. More than 1,800 families have been served to date.

The India program is actually stepping up its pace, with 400 to 500 houses being built each month. To date, more than 4,440 families have been served in India.

In Thailand, the tsunami-reconstruction program — which has served more than 900 families — is being transformed, as planned, into a regular Habitat program as there is still a strong need for affordable housing in the country’s south.

In the more recently affected Solomon Islands, rebuilding is slowly but surely taking place. Habitat has undertaken a 117-home repair project in partnership with the Roman Catholic diocese on the hardest-hit island of Gizo. More than 30 families in two villages are starting to move into their repaired houses after receiving help; repairs have commenced in a third village.

Underlining all of Habitat’s tsunami reconstruction work is the community-based disaster response model, which calls for a high level of community participation in rebuilding decisions.

The Acehnese family of Sawidah, right, is one of thousands participating in Habitat tsunami-recovery efforts.
“Our commitment is a long-term one,” says Steven Weir, Habitat’s vice president of global program development and support. “It is more than the physical structure of doors, walls and roofing. It’s having programs in place that go far in reducing the devastating effects of poverty, especially poverty brought about by the utter devastation of a sudden disaster like the tsunami.”

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