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. Progress solid on Indonesian tsunami reconstruction: donors

by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) Dec 18, 2007
Reconstruction in ravaged areas of the Indonesian coastline is on track nearly three years after the Indian Ocean tsunami, a key group of international donors said Tuesday.

The Multi Donor Fund (MDF) of foreign nations and international financial institutions paid out 270 million dollars between May 2005 and September this year, a progress report said.

Fund representatives lauded the completion of several thousand kilometres (miles) of road, 282 schools, 43 health posts and a host of other projects under the MDF to improve living standards.

"In the end it's about results on the ground, it's a programme about roads, houses, people's livelihoods, schools, hospitals. And I think those results on the ground are what speak for themselves," said World Bank country director Joachim von Amsberg.

Von Amsberg said the World Bank -- which is part of the MDF -- had put in place effective measures to prevent the siphoning off of reconstruction funds, a key risk in notoriously corrupt Indonesia.

"I would never claim there is zero corruption and zero leakage under World Bank financing, yet I would say that we're doing, along with our partners, what we reasonably can do to minimise those risks," he said.

The MDF announced Tuesday it had allocated another 492 million dollars of an available 673 million on 17 projects, with a focus on building capacity for the economy to cope after large-scale reconstruction draws to a close mid-2009.

The World Bank has previously warned that recent economic growth in Aceh has been overly reliant on foreign-funded reconstruction projects.

According to a November report, stagnant agricultural and manufacturing sectors in the province -- which lost 168,000 people in the December 26, 2004 disaster -- will not be able to pick up the economic slack after the reconstruction boom.

The MDF is responsible for allocating foreign funds to reconstruction projects throughout the province, under the coordination of a steering committee that includes the World Bank and the Aceh-Nias reconstruction agency (BRR).

The majority of the 5.8 billion dollars pledged to help the devastated regions -- much of it from overseas -- is contributed directly to other schemes, all of which require the go-ahead of the BRR.

The head of the BRR, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, on Tuesday lauded progress in Aceh and Nias but said around 20,000 houses still needed to be built, as well as a major highway, schools and hospitals.

The reconstruction agency ends its mandate in April 2009.

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A Gizmo That Saves Lives
San Diego CA (SPX) Dec 18, 2007
When Javier Rodriguez Molina visited the Atocha Train Station Memorial in Madrid last summer, the Barcelona native felt a great sadness for the victims of the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings. But he also felt some hope that his advanced emergency technology work at University of California, San Diego can some day save lives in similar disasters.

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