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Buildings were reduced to rubble in the earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people and left thousands homeless

NGOs work to help quake victims

March 16 2010

LONDON (UCAN) -- Relief agencies fear that victims of last year's West Sumatra earthquake must remain in "transitional" housing for some time to come and some may never move out.

The Indonesian government's pilot rebuilding project began only this month, though the earthquake struck on Sept. 30. The project covers 7,600 households affected by the 7.6 magnitude earthquake which killed more than 1,000 people and left thousands homeless. More funds will become available in May, eventually reaching a total of 2.5 trillion rupiah (US$272 million).

But according to Jennifer Hadley, emergency response officer at the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), the English arm of Caritas International, the funding Jakarta will provide for people whose homes were seriously damaged amounts to only 15 million rupiah per family -­ "nowhere near enough to build a new house," she said.

"Although it is many months since the earthquake, the situation is still very confused," she told UCA News. "It appears people will need to live in their transitional housing for months yet."
Temporary shelters of 'international standards'
Hadley visited the regional capital, Padang, recently and said rebuilding is progressing quickly there. But the picture is very different a short distance north in Padang Pariaman, the worst affected area. There the Aceh People's Forum (APF),  a CAFOD partner, is providing emergency shelter for more than 700 families.

APF is based in the northern province of Aceh but went to Padang immediately after the quake to provide relief aid.

Hadley met one family who lived in a tent donated by an aid organization for several weeks after the quake. Now, with the help of AFP, the family has built a temporary shelter with plywood walls, aluminum roofing and a concrete floor where they will live until they get the funds to rebuild their known home.

In a nearby village, a woman named Afrita, 40, also living in temporary accommodation, complained: "Although we have heard rumors of the government compensation package, we have not seen any cash so far."

Hadley told UCA News: "The temporary shelters are up to internationally agreed standards and many people may choose to improve and extend them rather than build from scratch due to the limited funds available."

She added that there are fears of another, more serious earthquake in the near future.

"All the rebuilding efforts could prove futile unless the government and NGOs take important preparatory measures to save the lives of local people in future quakes," she said.

UK09124/1593 March 16, 2010 41 EM-lines (410 words)

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