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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Two years ago today, a giant tsunami fell upon eight countries throughout the Indian ocean. The place hardest hit was Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra. 500 miles of coast were slammed and more than 170,000 residents killed. As Jocelyn Ford reports, rehabilitation continues.
JOCELYN FORD: In addition to the staggering loss of life, the tsunami left a half million people homeless in this Indonesian province.
To help them recover, the government and aid groups are constructing 128,000 homes. So far half that number has been built.
Although new housing construction is behind schedule, consider where Aceh was before the tsunami.
The province had been isolated for 30 years due to deadly political violence that brought the economy to a near standstill, but the Tsunami helped the foes in that conflict make peace.
Now the hard part is how to take advantage of the peace and the reconstruction aid.
KUNTORO: Job creation, that’s a real challenge
Indonesia’s director of reconstruction Kuntoro is concerned what happens to the economy after the $7 billion worth of reconstruction money is spent.
Said Faisal heads the government’s private sector development office.
SAID FAISAL: Within this two years, the private sectors must be given opportunity to grow. That’s what can sustain the economic growth in Aceh.
He says Aceh’s jungles and coral reefs have potential for ecotourism and Aceh has highland coffee and pungent spices.
Next year the province will hold its first investment summit to tell the world it’s open for business.
In Banda Aceh, I’m Jocelyn Ford for Marketplace.
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