This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
HOW LOCAL OWNERSHIP IS UNDERMINED BY DONORS A Case Study of Tsunami Victims, Whose Resettlement Rights are Threatened by a USAID-financed Highway in Aceh, Northern Sumatera, Indonesia
Research Team: George Junus Aditjondro Eddy Purwanto
Working Paper No.4, 2008
NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations
“WE ARE BABY TURTLES, WHO HAVE TO BE CLOSE TO THE SEA”:
HOW LOCAL OWNERSHIP IS UNDERMINED BY DONORS
A Case Study of Tsunami Victims, Whose Resettlement Rights are Threatened by a USAID-financed Highway in Aceh, Northern Sumatera, Indonesia
Research Team: George Junus Aditjondro Eddy Purwanto
Working Paper No.4, 2008
- ii -
Acknowledgment How Local Ownership is Undermined by Donors Introduction: Research Methodology: Research Findings: Conclusions: Recommendations: Bibliography: i ii 1 4 10 16 18 19
Acknowledgment The study was fully financed by YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU), a prominent organization working in disaster management and prevention in Indonesia. YEU is a member of ACT (Action by Church Together). YEU has extensive works in disaster areas, both natural disasters and human‐triggered disasters (conflicts) such as in the tsunami and earthquake devastated region of Aceh and Nias, the disaster areas of Yogyakarta and Central Java, “inter‐religious” conflicts in Central Sulawesi and Maluku, and in other areas in Indonesia. YEU is also taking part in supporting humanitarian aid in the cyclone devastated areas in Burma. Grateful thanks to Dr. George Junus Aditjondro and Mr. Eddy Purwanto who did the research in the fields and in the libraries and newspapers offices in Aceh and Yogyakarta. Special thanks to Dr. Sigit Widjajanto, the director of YAKKUM, who is persistently doing advocacy for the rights of people in Kuala Bubon although he knows that he is challenging the global giant. Thanks to Rebecca Young from the Presbyterian Church Jakarta who did the English editing of the report and to Mr. Suwarno at INFID who made the paper into this form.
HOW LOCAL OWNERSHIP IS UNDERMINED BY DONORS The following case is truly an example of how ownership is undermined when it comes to its implementation at local level, where the life and livelihood of the grassroots people are concerned, where the people’s dignity is threatened, where all the desperate efforts of the people to restore their life and livelihood are undermined by the donors and the government. The reconstruction of the village of Kuala Bubon in Aceh was an example of what the participatory development practitioners are always dreaming of: fully participation of the community members from planning, physical reconstruction design, environmental considerations, participatory implementation and participatory management, women participation and leadership and the respect to the children’s rights. It was not an easy task, of course. Even when the humanitarian agencies came to offer the support to the community, the community asked to the agencies whether their designs were in line with what the people expected. The community members elected the agency through a ballot box mechanism facilitated by UNOCHA, after a presentation of designs of programs by the agencies. YEU (YAKKUM Emergency Unit) was the one elected by majority of the community members to facilitate the whole process of reconstruction and a long‐term community development plans. The village of Kuala Bubon that was totally devastated by tsunami in December 2006 is now in place. They people are happy with the results of the reconstruction; the results of their own efforts. The sense of ownership of the whole process and results is very strong and the people of Kuala Bubon have enjoyed living in the houses they plan and they build together in the community. The study shows how the donor persistently pushed the people to relocate and how the donor does not respect the rights of the local communities. Though it is a grant for the survivors of tsunami in Aceh, it does not mean that the rights of the survivors can be undermined and their voices can be ignored. The case study also proves what Naomi Klein said in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism that the donors in cooperation with transnational corporations (consultancy firms and the mining corporations) use the disaster as vehicle to impose their conditionalities (with ultimatum) to achieve their own objectives. The highway construction in narrow and densely populated areas is hardly accepted that it is for the benefit of the local - ii -
communities. It must be for the interests of big corporations that need fast transportation; and Aceh is rich of oil and natural gas – the two natural resources that have been long exploited by transnational corporations and that have become the main causes of long conflicts in Aceh. The case study shows that even the donors cannot recognize the local democratic ownership as the first principle in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Don K. Marut Executive Director INFID
- iii -
“WE ARE BABY TURTLES, WHO HAVE TO BE CLOSE TO THE SEA”: A Case Study of Tsunami Victims, Whose Resettlement Rights are Threatened by a USAID‐financed Highway in Aceh, Northern Sumatera, Indonesia By George Junus Aditjondro1 and Eddy Purwanto2 INTRODUCTION: THIS is a case study with various characteristics. First of all, this is a case study where the sovereignty of grassroots villagers is threatened by the self‐ proclaimed sovereignty of one of the world’s largest aid agencies: the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Secondly, it is a case study where the reconstruction of a region, terribly destroyed by a natural disaster, has become heavily dependent on the dictates of aid agencies, and in particular, on USAID. Thirdly, it is a case study which further highlights what Graham Hancock has emphasized in his Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige and Corruption of the International Aid Business (1989), namely how official development aid (ODA) often masks the interests of large private corporations, particularly, 26 August 2005. Post-tsunami Kuala Bubon. A large part of the village landmass has been reclaimed by the sea oil and construction companies. Next, it is a case study where the peace settlement between a national government and a province‐based independence movement is financially undermined by bureaucrats in the national capital, increasing the dependence of Aceh’s provincial government on USAID, thereby eroding the accountability of
). Independent researcher, with special interest in the political economy of post-disaster reconstruction in Aceh and Nias, and has written several reports published by the International NGO Forum for Indonesian Development (INFID). With a Ph.D. and an M.S. from Cornell University, Dr. Aditjondro is currently a guest lecturer at the Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta. 2 ). Community organizer (CO) of YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU), with field experience in Aceh, currently in charge of advocacy for the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Aceh and other places served by YEU. He has a B.A. in Law.
the government to grassroots communities, in particular, the fisher folks of Kuala Bubon, who are re‐building their livelihood after the 2004 tsunami took a third of their village and many of their relatives and neighbors. Finally, this is a case study of resilient villagers, who have continued to fight for their rights to maintain the integrity of their community vis‐à‐vis USAID, in a David versus Goliath type struggle. Obviously, this is also a case study where post‐disaster reconstruction activities, threatened by time (and budget) constraints, often overlook ecological factors, local wisdom in rebuilding communities, health factors, and existing legal regulations. What makes this case more unique, though, is the fact that the culture and local wisdom in the province of Aceh is recognized by Indonesian laws and provincial regulations (qanun), as well as by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM, Gerakan Aceh Merdeka), signed in Helsinki on August 15, 2005. These legal obligations have been overruled by most post‐tsunami housing projects. In contrast to that general practice, the reconstruction of houses of Kuala Bubon, a gampong (village) in the district of West Aceh, has been planned and executed by an Indonesian non‐government organization, YEU (YAKKUM Emergency Unit), after consulting the villagers and then rebuilding the entire village based on the people’s wish to remain near to the sea, to continue living as fisher folks. In an innovative way, YEU has rebuilt the people’s village with an architectural style inspired by the vernacular architecture of the Serui people in West Papua, who live in stilted houses above the sea. “We are baby turtles, who have to be close to the sea,” is the popular saying of the Kuala Bubon villagers (Puthut EA 2007b: 133). At the time of writing this research report, this newly rebuilt Kuala Bubon village – and 95 other houses build by other NGOs in seven nearby villages ‐‐ are threatened to be destroyed by a 30‐metre wide highway which is to be built with a USAID grant. Appeals from the Kuala Bubon villagers to USAID to reroute the road have fallen on deaf ears. This has made people wonder, what exactly is USAID’s motive to build a 30‐metre wide highway across a river delta, bulldozing its way through villages and houses rebuilt by national and international NGOs for these fisher folks who refused to relocate far from the coast? -2-
In order to investigate the hidden agenda of USAID’s persistence to build its highway across Kuala as well as investigate the reluctance of the national and provincial governments to challenge USAID’s persistence with its planned highway across Kuala Bubon, YEU’s partner organization, CD Bethesda, has commissioned the authors of this report to do combined library and field research on this matter. Admittedly, this research report has not answered all questions satisfactory.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: TO investigate the interests behind USAID’s persistence in building the northwestern highway across Kuala Bubon, as well as the reluctance of national and provincial authorities to challenge the agency’s ignorance of the villagers’ feelings, the following research methodology have been employed. Firstly and continuously, the research team has collected and read various reports available about the history and development of the Kuala Bubon resettlement project, literature about the local wisdom in the management of coastal villages, and official reports of the provincial government of the existing and forthcoming investment projects in Aceh, especially on the northwestern coast. Secondly, the team did a content analysis of the local print media, especially the Serambi Indonesia daily, focusing on any news of the USAID‐ financed highway, to assess the attitude of provincial authorities and USAID officials towards local people protesting against the eviction or destruction of their land, houses, and facilities to earn their living. Thirdly, the research team carried out participant observation of the condition of segments of the USAID‐financed road by driving a rental car along the road from Meulaboh to Calang and from Calang to Banda Aceh. Another form of participant observation was spending a night at Kuala Bubon to observe the daily life in the village. Fourthly, the research team carried out interviews with Aceh government officials, USAID officials, business people, activists, YEU staff who had been involved in the reconstruction of Kuala Bubon and villagers along the Calang‐ Banda Aceh highway, whose land have been appropriated to widen the existing road, and drivers of trucks employed by the road contractors. Unfortunately, interviews with Aceh officials, including the Governor, did not provide any useful information, since either they did not know much about the road project, or they were reluctant to criticize the US aid agency. Fifthly, a focus group discussion (FGD) was carried out by the research team with the village elders of Kuala Bubon on July 11, 2008, attended among others by the Kuala Bubon village head (keuchik), village secretary, village council of four elders (tuha peut), Village Development Body (LPD, or Lembaga Pembangunan Desa), and the marine customary chief (Panglima La’ot) of the Samatiga subdistrict. -4-
The sixth and final research method was by using the internet facility at YEU’s Training Centre in Pakem, Yogyakarta, to search for ongoing news on Kuala Bubon and to investigate the background of US corporations close ties to USAID. KUALA BUBON, BEFORE AND AFTER THE 2004 TSUNAMI: BEFORE the 2004 tsunami, Kuala Bubon – literally, the mouth of the Bubon river ‐‐ was a very busy fishing village, with hundreds of fishing boats coming in and out the river every day. The villagers themselves at that time owned 121 boats. The men were mostly fishermen, famous for their fishing skills, with the women buying the incoming catch, which was sold to fish vendors (muge), whom in turn rode their motorcycles to sell the fish to other villages in the West Aceh district. Outsiders from the nearby districts of Aceh Jaya and Nagan Raya also frequented or stayed in Kuala Bubon, working as muge, as workers at the fish auction terminal (TPI = tempat pelelangan ikan), as workers at the ice factory, or as crew on Kuala Bubon fishing boats. The village was always busy around the clock, except on Thursdays, when the men did not go out fishing at night, so that they could attend the Friday prayers at the local mosque (Puthut EA 2007a: 127‐8; interviews). Administratively, Kuala Bubon belongs to the Samatiga subdistrict, itself a part of West Aceh district, sandwiched between the Indian Ocean on its south and swamps on the north (Puthut 2007a: 128), which had partly been turned into brackish water fish ponds (tambak). As part of Samatiga subdistrict, the customary fishery or marine ombudsman, or Panglima La’ot, according to Aceh’s tradition (Syarif 2003) of Kuala Bubon, falls under the Panglima La’ot of Samatiga. Economically, the village and its inhabitants were quite well off. Taxes paid from the fish trade, ice factory, the nearby port for CPO (crude palm oil) tankers of PT Karya Tanah Subur (KTS), and the fishing boat dockyard, have earned the title “donor’s village” to Kuala Bubon. In addition to its economic reputation, many people from Meulaboh, the district capital, often came to the village just to enjoy its beautiful sea, coast, and fish ponds, with the mountains on the background (Puthut EA 20071: 128). Politically, Kuala Bubon was a safe place during the protracted guerilla war between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian military, where refugees from other villages or parts of Aceh felt safe (idem). This was important in those days as it is still now, after the August 15, 2005, Helsinki -5-
Agreement between GAM and the TNI, since the rivalry is still alive between those who support and those who oppose the independence movement in the western part of Aceh, which harbor a latent movement to separate western and southern Aceh from the province, backed by anti‐Helsinki agents in and from Jakarta. This peaceful and prosperous picture of Kuala Bubon changed radically after the waves of the Indian Ocean swept over the village on the afternoon of December 26, 2004. After the water resided, it was found that 221 of the 929 inhabitants of Kuala Bubon had perished, consisting of 116 females and 105 males. All the buildings had been leveled to the ground, the existing bridge across the Bubon river that connected Kuala Bubon and its southern neighbour, Suak Timah, was swept away, and 600 m2 (6,500 square feet) of 26 August 2005. A view of post-tsunami Kuala Bubon and the rubble the village land was now of the remaining homes under water (Puthut EA 2007a: 130). With the help of outside organizations, the remaining 754 Kuala Bubon villagers received temporary shelter in seven IDP barracks in the Samatiga subdistrict. The West Aceh district government planned to resettle the entire village in Cot Seumereung, a village quite far from the sea, and issued a new regulation prohibiting anybody to reside within 500 metres of the coast line. Finally, only 60 families, mostly not fisher folks, relocated to two nearby villages ‐‐ Cot Seumereung and Gampong Tengah ‐‐ , while 118 families remained in the barracks, waiting for the time to return to their old village (Puthut EA 2007a: 130‐ 1, 2007b: 137‐8; interviews). That was the time that YEU, who had helped to build the refugee barracks at the old village, began seriously discussing with the village leaders how to rebuild their village. First, they needed to compensate for their land, lost to the sea, but what was available was only former fish ponds (tambak) that had turned
into swamps. With financial assistance of the Board of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, or BRR (Badan Koordinasi Rehabilitasi dan Rekonstruksi) for Aceh and Nias, the West Aceh district government purchased four hectares of land – actually, swamps, with sea water at a depth of one to three metres – , for the price of Rp 17,000 rupiah per square metre to rebuild Kuala Bubon. Consequently, this triggered the second questions: should those swamps be reclaimed and the houses built on solid ground? Or, should the new Kuala Bubon houses be built on stilts, above the sea water? The second option was chosen. Apart from being too costly, estimated to reach 50 billion rupiah, the environmental and health risks of transporting millions of tons of gravel and sand from faraway places would be quite monumental. In addition, the new underwater soil and sand in the Bubon delta were still moving, since the 20 May 2006. Building feeling of togetherness among the people of river currents and marine Kuala Bubon to start reconstruction (Strategic Plan forum) waves had not yet reached a new equilibrium, and were still depositing sand. Hence, YEU’s shelter team, headed by Setyo Dharmodjo, an architect with years of experience in the reconstruction of homes for numerous disaster victims in Indonesia, decided to design 118 houses on stilts on the sea bottom, with the accompanying public buildings on the remaining solid ground. As he told the researchers in an interview in Yogyakarta on August 21, 2008, this was his second time he has designed houses on stilts on the water. The first one was in Jayapura, West Papua, inspired by the traditional architecture of the Serui people. As it turned out, the costs of building 118 houses on the water in Kuala Bubon was much less than the first option, namely around 16 billion rupiah. Unfortunately, while the villagers were still cooperating with staff persons of YEU and its sister organization, CD Bethesda, to rebuild the community, residing in 118 houses on the water, which was not an easy task, considering all the trauma which the villagers had gone through, a new danger was lurking on -7-
the horizon: a 30‐metre wide bridge and highway that USAID was planning to build across the Bubon Bay. Let us now turn to the history of this project, as reconstructed from reports and interviews with various persons involved. USAID: WHILE the Kuala Bubon villagers had basic survival as their ultimate goal in rebuilding their village, completely different considerations were in the mind of certain international aid agencies, which had rushed to Aceh immediately after the 2004 earthquake and tsunami. Since not only Kuala Bubon, but major parts of the northwestern coast provincial road from Meulaboh to Banda Aceh was also destroyed, this fact created the need for a major aid project in the region. The two largest creditor nations in the Asia Pacific, namely the USA and Japan, were both interested in rebuilding the 240 kilometre road as a “signature project”, an aid project which would enable the Acehnese and other Indonesian people always to remember the generosity of those who donated that project to the Indonesian people. So eager was the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as the Japan International Cooperation System (JICS) to rebuild the road along Aceh’s northwestern coastline that the Indonesian Minister for Public Works had to interfere. A compromise deal was forged, by dividing the road into two sections. The Banda Aceh‐Calang segment of 104,13 kilometres was to be built by USAID, while the construction of the Calang‐Meulaboh segment was handed over to JICS.
Each aid agency contracted the construction of the road segment allocated to them to different contractors, according to different standards and with quite different results. The USAID segment followed the US standard of 30‐metre wide highways, which was contracted to a 18 January 2007. Mr Setjo Darmojo explains the Kuala Bubon house joint venture of the building plan to Christine from USAID. The arrow points to the standing demo houses South Korean construction company, Ssangyong Construction and Engineering Ltd, and the Indonesian state‐owned company, PT Hutama Karya, for US$ 108 million (Bisnis Indonesia, June 25, 2007), while the JICS segment was contracted to another Indonesian state‐owned company, PT Adhi Karya, which in turn subcontracted it to a local contractor, known as Haji Tito. This JICS segment was of very poor standard, consisting mainly of capping the existing road with a thin layer of gravel and asphalt, which in many places has already worn off (Serambi, June 30 & July 2, 2007; interviews; observations). From Teunom in Aceh Jaya district to Samatiga in West Aceh district, JICS’s contractor did not follow the existing road, but built a new road further inland, 8‐metres wide. This road circumvented Kuala Bubon and other villages around the Bubon Bay by about 24 kilometres, in an alignment popularized by USAID staff in Banda Aceh as ‘the horseshoe’. According to one informant, this was done to bring the road to the doorsteps of the personal house of a former district head (Bupati) of West Aceh. Another informant, however, denied that any West Aceh Bupati owned a personal house anywhere along that ‘horseshoe’. The overall planning and supervision of the 240‐kilometre road from Banda Aceh to Meulaboh, however, was contracted by USAID to a US firm, namely Parsons Global Services Inc, for US$ 34.9 million, or more than fourteen percent of the projected value of the entire road, namely US$ 245 million (Suara Merdeka Cyber News, Nov. 14, 2005; USAID Indonesia Press Release, Nov. 14, 2005). -9-
RESEARCH FINDINGS: IN the following section we will describe the findings of the research team, which have combined library research, field observations, interviews and internet search, which took place in Yogyakarta and Aceh from July 18, 2008 until August 25, 2008: (a). Although the entire Calang‐Meulaboh segment had been assigned to JICS, and not to USAID, after the ‘horseshoe’ alignment had been built by PT Adhi Karya and its subcontractor, the USAID office in Banda Aceh stepped in by asking Parsons Global Services Inc. to suggest several options to shortcut that 24 kilometre ‘horseshoe’ alignment. Consequently, although the consultancy company offered several options, ranging from more deeper inland to closer to the seashore, USAID eventually chose the option that crosses the river with a huge bridge and then cuts across Kuala Bubon and 4 April 2007. Roy Ventura and Christine from USAID present and explain the road construction to the people of Kuala Bubon, BRR, also crushes a hundred Spanish Red Cross, CRS and YEU newly built houses in seven adjoining villages. No satisfactory answer has been given why Roy R. Ventura Jr., the USAID Aceh Road Project Team Leader has rigidly maintained that position. (b). According to information provided to the research team by Kuala Bubon villagers, the USAID persons they had met maintained that the route chosen by the Agency could neither be moved further inland nor closer to the seashore, and could not be bent. Observation by the research team has found out, though, that along the Calang – Banda Aceh USAID‐financed road, there are many bends, and although in some places rocks have been blasted to allow the road to go through, in most places the 30‐metre wide road smoothly followed the hilly topography, and in some places the road came quite close to the shore, and in other places,
- 10 -
the road went through reclaimed swamps, using geo‐textile sheets as a foundation for the rocks and sand. (c). The USAID Aceh Road Project Team Leader has consistently underplayed the social and environmental impact of building the bridge and road across Kuala Bubon and seven other villages, by playing down the number of houses that may need to be relocated. Sometimes mentioning four houses in Kuala Bubon, and at other occasions mentioning one or two houses, has been the rhetoric game he has played. In fact, assessing from the yellow and red tags tied to spikes in the ground, which indicate the alignment of the proposed road, YEU’s field staff in Meulaboh has estimated that a total of 125 houses need to be relocated, namely twenty in Suak Timah, twenty in Kuala Bubon, four in Gampong Tengah, five in Gampong Cut, 38 in Suak Pandan, fifteen in Suak Padebreh, three in Suak Semaseuh, and twenty in Pribu. These houses were built not only by YEU, an Indonesian NGO, but also by the World Vision, the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), SOS (Swiss), the Spanish Red Cross, the Islamic Relief, and HTF International. Apart from this direct adverse impact, what has not been publicized by the USAID is that the 30‐metre wide highway will split those eight villages in a Berlin Wall style, since for security reasons as well as for their own safety, the local villagers will lose their freedom to walk across that highway, where motorists will enjoy the luxury of racing their motorcycles and cars with speeds of up to 100 kilometres/hour, which they have never experienced before in Aceh. One needs only to look at the statistics of casualties from automotive accidents in local clinics, to understand how any minor improvement in the quality of the roads in Aceh has increased those fatalities even before the US‐ style highway has been introduced to the province. (d). Speaking of the US highway system, one should understand its history in the United States of America, which may have some relevance for us in Indonesia. In 1921, the US government started the US highway system, based on a US Army report for national defense. US President Eisenhower greatly expanded the system in the 1950s, and it is therefore officially called ‘the Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. According to Rebecca Young, a US Presbyterian theologian teaching at the Jakarta Theological Seminary (STT Jakarta), her own village in North Georgia is fighting against a highway through her area, because the reason for building that highway is to allow the military to transport nuclear waste through a rural area instead of the city of Atlanta. “So it is clear that the US Government regularly is in the habit of disrupting citizens’ lives and the environment for military purposes,” said Ms. Young in an interview with the research team. This raises than the question, is Aceh indeed - 11 -
facing similar defense challenges as imagined by Eisenhower, that the province needs such wide highways? (e). Unfortunately, the USAID team in Aceh has a quite dominant position vis‐à‐ vis the provincial government, which makes the government less responsive to the grassroots’ people’s complaints. This USAID dominance can be deduced from three factors. Firstly, it can be deduced from the language used to push through the construction of the Calang‐Banda Aceh segment, which had been slowed down by local peoples’ resistance at various places. After the USAID team threatened to pull out from the entire project, labeled in the local print media as an “ultimatum”, one can read statements from the Aceh authorities that also became harsher to the resisting parties (see headlines of Serambi Indonesia, July 9‐10, 2008). Secondly, Aceh’s provincial government has become quite financially dependent on the USAID, since Indonesia’s national government has delayed the transfer of routine and development budget from Jakarta to Banda Aceh for more than six months at the time of writing this paper. This dependence can be seen from the fact that the third and fourth floor of the Aceh Governor’s office is rented to the Aceh‐based USAID team (Majuddin, n.d.). Thirdly, although the Calang‐Meulaboh section had been contracted to JICS, the USAID’s interference to shortcut the so‐called “horseshoe” has not received any resistance from the West Aceh and provincial governments. (f). Hence, it is extremely important to study USAID’s links to large US companies, which have already invested their capital in Aceh, or are in the process of bidding for large business deals. In that light one has to see the recent opening of a brand new polytechnic institute in Banda Aceh, financed by a joint US$ 10 billion budget of the USAID and one of the largest oil companies in the world, namely ChevronTexaco, or Chevron, called the Vocational Training Alliance for Aceh. The groundbreaking ceremony of this polytechnic institute, which will occupy seven hectares of land in the Ulee Kareng subdistrict in Banda Aceh, took place on Monday, April 23, 2007, and was attended by Aceh Deputy Governor Muhammad Nazar and Banda Aceh Mayor Mawardi Nurdin. This joint venture was preceded by a USAID‐Chevron joint program to train young persons from Aceh and Nias at the Caltex Polytechnic School in Pekanbaru, Riau (Siaran Pers Kedubes AS, April 29, 2006). As then US Ambassador B. Lynn Pascoe stated in Pekanbaru, after the first group of 132 Aceh and Nias youth finished their training: “The partnership between USAID and Chevron reflected a long‐ term investment for Aceh‐Nias economy” (BRR daily news on http://www.brr.go.id/, Thursday, August 10, 2006). Hence, it is not unlikely that Chevron is paving the way to open their own oil and gas mining activities in - 12 -
Aceh – with the support of their partner, USAID, especially after the discovery of the huge hydrocarbon reserve northeast of Simeulue island (Serambi Indonesia, February 12, 2008). (g). A large US company with much closer links to USAID, as far as Aceh is concerned, is Parsons Global Service Inc. This company, based in Pasadena, California, USA, has been contracted to design and supervise the Banda Aceh‐ Meulaboh road for US$ 34.9 million. As the research team’s internet search has shown, this company has also been subcontracted by USAID in various post‐war and post‐disaster countries, such as in Iraq, where Parsons received a contract of $500 million, including US$ 240 million to build 150 primary health care (PHC) clinics throughout Iraq. However, two years after the contract was awarded, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), an independent US government agency, issued a report which stated that Parsons had reaped a US$ 3.3 million profit, although US$ 70 million worth of expensive medical equipment had not been delivered to the PHCs, while most of the PHCs had not been built yet or had been rejected due to poor quality (Moses 2004; Mandel 2006; Chatterjee 2007). Hence, it is amazing that despite this negative reputation, USAID has still contracted Parsons Global Services Inc. to plan and supervise the construction of the Banda Aceh‐Meulaboh road, while Parsons themselves are the ones who need to be supervised. (h). From the interviews that have been conducted by the research team and by analyzing prior land‐use plans in the Bubon Bay, it seems that the Aceh USAID team, who are very close to the authorities in Banda Aceh, already knew of plans to build new harbors in the Bay, and that those plans could only be executed if the Kuala Bubon village has been removed. These following events show those indicators: (h.1.). When Christine, whom at one stage was recruited as a surveyor by USAID, visited the village area on January 18, 2007, five stilted houses were already completed and shown to the surveyor, who recorded the boundaries of Kuala Bubon’s land with her GPS device. This person admitted that by that time the Aceh USAID team had hoped that all the Kuala Bubon villagers would have followed the district government’s appeal to relocate to Cot Seumereung. She also stated to the community leaders that she would raise the community’s concern about the USAID plan to build the road across the village to her superiors in Banda Aceh, However, in a follow‐up meeting with Roy Ventura, the USAID Aceh Road Team Leader, at the USAID Aceh office on March 11,
- 13 -
2007, Ventura stated that Christine is no longer working for the Agency and that she did not have the right to say anything on behalf of USAID at that time. (h.2.). When other USAID surveyors came to Kuala Bubon to conduct sounding tests to determine the soil’s strength to carry the burden of bridges or other buildings, they did it until a depth of 50 metres. YEU’s engineer who was at the site to supervise the construction of the stilted houses asked the surveyors, why they did the sounding so deep, because usually 15 metres is deep enough. Unfortunately, he did not receive a satisfactory answer. By that time, the USAID surveyors could see that five exemplary houses had already been built, and the construction had already begun for the 113 other houses. (h.3.). According to one informant, a year before the 2004 tsunami, a soil test had already been carried out by certain parties to build a new harbor in the Bubon river delta, more or less where the newly rebuilt Kuala Bubon village is located. The test was carried out by a teacher of the local engineering high school in Meulaboh, and was of quite high standards. (h.4.). Before the 2004 tsunami, the nearby Lhok Bubon village at the northern end of the Bubon Bay had harbored special ships (tankers, as the local people call them), carrying the crude palm oil (CPO) produced by PT Karya Tanah Subur, a member company of the Astra Agro Lestari Group, which has a 5,000 hectare palm oil plantation in West Aceh. After the tsunami, PT KTS moved its CPO export to the Ujung Karang harbor of Meulaboh, which has been rebuilt with Singaporean aid. It is not unlikely that the business community on Aceh’s western coast is interested in financing the construction of a new and larger CPO port in the Bay area, since in addition to PT KTS, another company, PT Bosowa Megapolis is opening a new palm oil plantation in the Panga subdistrict of the neighboring Aceh Jaya district. (h.5.). The (national) Department of Marine and Fishery has already announced plans to build a new fish auction site (TPI) and fishery harbor in Suak Timah at the southern end of the Bubon Bay, with a budget of 15 billion Rupiah. This information first came from the Panglima La’ot of Samatiga subdistrict, who is also a Kuala Bubon villager, during our FGD in Kuala Bubon on July 21, 2008, and has been verified by three other informants in Meulaboh and Banda Aceh during the course of our field research. (h.6.). Two informants in Meulaboh also informed the research team about plans to move the current ferry harbor from Ujung Karang in Meulaboh to the Bubon - 14 -
Bay. Ferries from this port daily transport passengers, vehicles, and other merchandise from Meulaboh to Sinabang on the island of Simeulue. Reportedly, another 15 billion Rupiah has been allocated for this project, although its exact location in the Bubon Bay is still unknown. However, with the discovery of huge hydrocarbon reserves northeast of Simeulue by German and Indonesian geologists, which could be seen as a blessing in disguise of the 2004 tsunami (Serambi Indonesia, February 12, 2008), marine traffic between Simeulue may increase tremendously and the new ferry port will have an increasingly strategic value. (h.7.). Finally, in the coming years there may emerge additional pressure from the mining sector to build or expand the existing harbours of West Aceh, especially from the gold mines in the Sungai Mas subdistrict, where gold mining has taken place on the upper stretch of the Woyla River, with traditional as well as modern techniques, for the last two decades. (i). Last but certainly not least, the Kuala Bubon villagers themselves have attempted to utilize all peaceful ways to defend their rights to rebuild their own livelihood according to what has been their tradition for decades, namely fishing and building and repairing fishing boats. First, they appealed for support from the West Aceh district head (Bupati) and the district parliament (DPRK = Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Kabupaten). With letters of support from the Bupati and DPRK of West Aceh, they have gone to see the Provincial Parliament (DPRA), the Governor of Aceh, the Aceh‐Nias Rehabilitation & Reconstruction Coordination Body (BRR NAD‐Nias), the UN coordinating body for NGOs (UN‐ORC), and the USAID Aceh Road Team Leader, all without any significant result. Hence, on July 12, 2008, the village leaders sent letters of complaints to the President of Indonesia, Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and to the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM). While waiting for an answer from the President, they have invited Komnas HAM commissioners to visit their village, before or after the fasting month, Ramadhan.
- 15 -
CONCLUSIONS: The following conclusions are derived from the findings in the previous section: (1). In their anxiety to put a signature on their support for the reconstruction of Aceh, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has introduced the North American highway system into the province, without a prior debate about the appropriateness of the Eisenhower system of highways into a different country, with a completely different history and culture, and without an in‐ depth study into the impact of road improvement to traffic behavior. By this careless introduction of the Eisenhower highway style in Aceh, the USAID and its corporate partner, namely Parsons Global Services Inc., have behaved like an elephant in a china store, creating hundreds of jobs for North American and other non‐Acehnese consultants and business people, without considering the ‘Berlin Wall’ effect, and, in the special case of Kuala Bubon, the adverse impact on efforts to revitalize the maritime and coastal culture of Aceh’s coastal villagers. (2). The reluctance of national government officials to recognize GAM’s victory in the provincial and district elections by withholding Aceh’s provincial budget for the last six months. This has forced the provincial government to search for alternative financial sources and has turned to USAID and other international agencies as the major financial supporters of the Aceh provincial government. This financial dependence on the USAID has been quite detrimental for the people of Kuala Bubon, as well as for other villagers along the USAID‐financed northwestern road, since their appeals for support and understanding of their own elected leaders often fall on deaf ears. This exaggerated sense of gratitude to USAID has blinded the provincial bureaucrats’ eyes to the unique contribution made by the people of Kuala Bubon in rebuilding their community by revitalizing their coastal and marine culture, as required by the LoGA (Law No. 11/2006 on the Government of Aceh) and by the August 15, 2005, MoU between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement. (3). Our research has also shown that players with diverse economic interests are eager to wipe Kuala Bubon off the map, so that the existence of that village will not hinder several plans to build special harbors along the Bubon Bay, including a ferry harbor to transport commuters and other passengers from the Aceh mainland to the island of Simeulue, which may becoming a new economic
- 16 -
growth centre after the discovery of huge hydrocarbon reserves northeast of the island. (4). Just like baby turtles who have grown up after reaching the sea, the Kuala Bubon people have shown their resilience to fight against any attempt to relocate them away from their traditional waters. They have refuse to be split by a highway passing through their community, which like a Berlin Wall will polarize villagers living on both sides of the highway, and are eager to invite other villagers to join their struggle.
June 2008 : daily activities, children and women enjoyed their neighbourhood in Kuala Bubon
- 17 -
RECOMMENDATIONS: In response to those conclusions, the research team offers the following recommendations: (1). Obstruction of the national government’s financial obligations to the Government of Aceh should be eliminated to avoid overdependence of the Government of Aceh to USAID and other international aid agencies. (2). The construction of the Banda Aceh – Meulaboh USAID‐financed highway should be temporarily put on hold, prior to a public debate regarding all the social, environmental and cultural impacts of the highway, inviting all stakeholders, and especially villagers living along the road, and health workers who have dealt with casualties that have happened alongside the increasing speed and recklessness of drivers after every improvement of the road. (3). Government authorities in Banda Aceh, as well as other persons involved in the road construction, should come and live with the people of Kuala Bubon for a short period to be able to discuss and appreciate the efforts they have made in rebuilding their livelihood and living in refugee barracks, and understand the trauma which they will experience if the community is shattered by the USAID‐ planned highway. (4). Reconstruction of any war‐torn or disaster‐torn country or region does not absolve the government from having to be transparent and accountable to any development project. Hence, the national and provincial government should be transparent on any and all planned development efforts in the Bubon Bay. Only full transparency in this field and area may prevent further speculation about the motives behind the USAID’s insistence on shortcutting the so‐called ‘horseshoe’ road around the Bubon Bay. - 18 -
Bibliography: Chatterjee, Pratap (2007). High-Tech Healthcare in Iraq, Minus the Healthcare. Special to CorpWatch, January 8. Majuddin, Akhiruddin (n.d.).Meneropong Bantuan Berbalut Konsesi di Aceh. Mandel, Jenny (2006). “Report details problems with contract for Iraq health centers”, govexec.com, May 1. Moses, Greg (2004). Live from Pasadena: Silhouttes of New Order. CounterPunch, March 29. Puthut EA (ed.) (2007a). Menyusun Serpihan Cermin Retak: Melihat Dari Dekat Penanganan Bencana Alam di Aceh dan Nias. Yogyakarta: YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU). Puthut EA (2007b). Lewat Batas Luka: Lembaran Kisah yang Hampir Tertutup. Yogyakarta: YEU. Syarif, Sanusi M. (2003). Riwang U La’ot: Leuen Pukat dan Panglima La’ot dalam Kehidupan Nelayan di Aceh. Banda Aceh: Yayasan Rumpun Bambu.
- 19 -
Address: Jalan Mampang Prapatan XI No.23 – Jakarta 12790 – Indonesia Phone (6221) 79196721, 79196722, Fax (6221) 7941577 Email:email@example.com,www.infid.org
- 20 -
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.