The task of resettling the hundreds of thousands of homeless survivors is expected to take several years. Large projects to build new houses and restore livelihoods are just getting under way. In the meantime, wooden barracks have been built to replace the tent camps set up throughout Aceh in the first weeks after the disaster.
Not everyone wants to move. Residents of a tent camp on the outskirts of Banda Aceh have resisted efforts to relocate them to barracks near the wrecked coastal villages they fled six months ago. Most worked in fishing or farming. “There is nothing to do there, and no administration,” says Najib, the camp coordinator. “Here we have access to NGOs who are helping us.”
Most came on foot or sailboat from Aceh Jaya, many kilometres away, to a patch of land owned by the Aceh Jaya legislature. A doctor and a midwife from a humanitarian group called Obor provide care in the camp's medical tent every day.
But conditions are grim. More than 1,000 people occupy 160 tents, with just 10 substandard toilets. Staples are donated rice and canned sardines. “It is hot in the day and cold at night, and we don't have beds,” says a man whose family shares one of the larger tents with another family. He came from Jemphenk village, where 125 out of 700 inhabitants survived. “Now there are no houses in Aceh Jaya. We don't know what to do.”