May 6, 2009


Those who have ever visited Banda Aceh during the emergency or reconstruction phase of Aceh must have personal memory for Aceh and its environment. Few days after the tsunami disaster, Banda Aceh was look like a ‘ghost city’: no de facto government, bodies were lying with rubies, no social and public services, economic activities stop ticking, citizens tried to escape in hurry.

One month later, humanitarian groups around the world worked in Aceh supplying basic needs and building temporal resettlement. Some NGOs focusing in environmental rehabilitation assisted the community to rebuild their environment, especially mangrove rehabilitation. Around 124 international NGOs, 430 national NGOs, dozens of donor and UN organizations, a variety of Government institutions and military institutions had been recorded after one year of tsunami disaster.

Since this time, ‘mangrove’ has become a popular word among local people replacing the word of bak Bangka, the traditional name of some mangrove trees.

During the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction stage, April 2005 – April 2009, competition among environmental institutions such as NGOs and government’s agencies, on mangrove plantation was obvious. Some non environmental NGOs turned on mangrove projects. an NGO which mainly focus on humanitarian and health, implemented mangrove restoration with premise on environmental health. An NGO which initially focused on elephant issue planted mangrove as well, even governmental agency with its main business on internal affair and rural development, proposed mangrove restoration. All were interested to mangrove. A huge number of money have been spent to rehabilitate natural resources along the coastline and its infrastructure.

What is the result ?

An evaluation survey by UNEP conducted after 18 months of the disaster…., the survival rate of those mangrove plantation was just 40 - 60% but the percentage would have likely decreased since the seedlings was too young at that time (1-2 months) to reach their maturity, have no shade, naturally specific environment constraints -waves, drought, medium, salinity. (UNEP, 2007)

Up to first quarter of 2009, based on my unstructured survey and informal discussion, I estimated the survival rate of Aceh mangrove plantation was just around 10%. Sadly.

It might be true that the local labor were unskilled but how about the national experts or even the international expert? They were really got highly remuneration package. Have lot of academic –might be- and factual experiences around the world.
Mangrove is a common name of species. Each of them requires a specific site –whether clay, silt, sand, or mix of them. A specific species also affected by the tide and frequent wave. In fact, one of some failures of mangrove planting in ex-tsunami sites was a wrong species in the wrong site. Was the ‘expert’ an expert ? Were the ‘Project managers’ a manager? or just a project oriented? Or a Seller and selling the issue of mangrove as an international resources whose in need to be restored and protected.


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