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Special Report on UNFPA Assistance Six Months After the Tsunami

Story and photos by William A. Ryan


Coastal section of Banda Aceh. The tsunami changed Aceh's demographic landscape, too.

Homeless camp family from Aceh Jaya. Census will provide an accurate count of the displaced population.


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Last week UNFPA and the Indonesian statistics bureau signed an agreement to conduct in the next few months a census in Aceh and Nias. The data collected and analysed will give planners a better understanding of the impact of the earthquakes and tsunami—including the different ways women and men were affected—and of needs for expanded social services.

Starting next month, more than 6,000 enumerators and 1,600 supervisors, working in teams with GPS systems, will gather vital information on every household. To reduce inaccuracy caused by the mobility of those displaced, the teams will focus intensively on this population in the beginning and count them quickly.

Funding for this massive effort, $2 million in all, is being provided by the aid agencies of New Zealand, Canada and Australia as well as UNFPA.

“Information based on this census, including an accurate count of the internally displaced population, will be available this year,” says Richard Makalew, UNFPA's census expert in Indonesia. “We will create a new sampling frame that can be used in subsequent surveys; the old frame is no longer valid. The data will be critical for planning purposes. In fact, the government has included the census as an essential activity in its blueprint for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Aceh and Nias, launched in June.”

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