Three months following the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean, the German government has committed itself to long-term aid in the region. But it will closely follow the funds’ implementation.
German soldiers in Banda Aceh, Indonesia
The German government is shifting gears in its support for areas devastated by the December tsunami. Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said Germany’s initial acute emergency aid would now increasingly go into reconstruction efforts.
These would focus on Sri Lanka and Indonesia, the hardest-hit countries in the region, she added.
Germany has provided 84.6 million euros ($110.2 million) in emergency aid so far. In the next three to five years, a further 500 million euros will follow.
“We will focus our aid in particular on health care, education, vocational training, housebuilding, as well as the reconstruction of local government and economy,” Wieczorek-Zeul said in Berlin.
Attempts to prevent corruption
In Indonesia, Germany will help mainly with reconstruction efforts, while in Sri Lanka, the focus will be on reestablishing basic infrastructure. Wieczorek-Zeul said the government will assist in restoring water and electricity supply, as requested by the Sri Lankan government.
The tsunami left many children homeless and orphaned
“We will also help revive the private sector, for example by setting up a micro finance credit scheme for women,” she said. In addition, support will be given to traumatized children and families.
The minister stressed that the German government would closely follow the use of the aid. It expected governments in the region to use the funds in a transparent manner.
Wieczorek-Zeul said the aid will be tied to certain conditions “that corruption is prevented, that weaker groups in the population like children, women and older people are not disadvantaged and that sustainable development can be realized.”
The minister stressed that the funds would be allocated to individual projects. “We will not be giving any checks to governments,” she said.
Helping settle regional conflicts
Wieczorek-Zeul said she hoped the aid would also contribute to settling the regional disputes with minority groups in both countries.
Landmines continue to be a problem in rebel-controlled territory in northern Sri Lanka
In the last three months, the separatist conflicts in Sri Lanka and Indonesia’s Aceh province have hindered relief efforts in those areas and compromised the safety of aid workers.
An end to the disputes between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels, as well as separatist rebels and Indonesian forces in Aceh province were a significant condition that reconstruction aid can reach those regions that need it, she said.
The December tsunami killed almost 300,000 people. Some one million became homeless. Wieczorek-Zeul said the suffering was by no means alleviated. “In certain areas, the situation is still far from being normal,” she said.
Germany's Minister for Cooperation and Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
But she stressed the positive results of the world’s solidarity with the region. No epidemics had broken out nor was there a famine in the region.
The cooperation in the affected regions was “exemplary” between the German military, the federal disaster relief organization Technisches Hilfswerk, the federal bureau of criminal investigation BKA and the German society for technical cooperation GTZ, she said.
“Solidarity requires sensitivity and patience,” Wieczorek-Zeul said. The world had learned from this catastrophe that prevention and looking ahead were vital for helping developing countries.