Aceh poverty declines below pre-tsunami levels: Report
February 22, 2008, 11:17 am
Filed under: Tsunami
The poverty level in Aceh has declined below pre-tsunami levels, but the trend is not sustainable, a new World Bank report said.

The World Bank’s 2008 Aceh Poverty Assessment analyzes poverty trends and determinants before and after the 2004 tsunami. In the first year after the tsunami, poverty increased only slightly from 28.4% in 2004 to 32.6% in 2005.By 2006, poverty declined to 26.5%, below pre-tsunami levels, suggesting that the rise in tsunami-related poverty was short-lived and reconstruction activities most probably facilitated the decline. This trend however, could reverse dramatically after reconstruction efforts come to an end, the report said.

“The current growth trend, primarily the result of the large reconstruction effort, is not sustainable. Agriculture and manufacturing continue to stagnate. The provincial and regional governments, respectively, need to develop necessary regulations that encourage the development of the private sector, particularly in agriculture and downstream related industries,” said Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, director of the Aceh and Nias Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Body (BRR).

The report also finds that poverty in Aceh, like other parts of Indonesia, is largely a rural phenomenon, with over 30% of the people living below the poverty line. However, the report finds no significant difference in poverty in areas both affected and not affected by the tsunami.

“Improving the productivity of the agricultural and fisheries sectors as well as other sectors linked to poverty alleviation is therefore key in the government’s efforts to alleviate poverty,” said Abdul Rahman Lubis, head of the Regional Body of Planning and Development (Bappeda) in the provincial administration.

“It is important that the current focus on reconstruction of tsunami-affected areas should be broadened to focus on the poorest and most remote areas that are not necessarily those devastated by the tsunami,” he added.

Aceh will have large fiscal resources in the foreseeable future, providing a unique opportunity for Aceh’s provincial and district governments to use them to alleviate poverty. Joachim von Amsberg, Country Director of World Bank Indonesia said, “It is necessary to improve the pattern of public spending at the local level to improve the lives of the Acehnese. It is imperative to build the capacity of both the provincial and district administrations, as they take over the responsibilities of rebuilding Aceh as the BRR phases out of the province.”

Enrique Blanco Armas, lead author of the report, highlights that the number of vulnerable people in Aceh is very high. “Many people are just below the poverty line so well-targeted interventions that promote broad-based growth may rapidly reduce the overall numbers of poor.”



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