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Tsunami relief in Indonesia: Drinking water for 290’000 people

In Sumatra on Saturday, Swiss Federal President Micheline Calmy-Rey inaugurated an important installation for supplying drinking water to the Indonesian provincial capital of Banda Aceh. The existing water supply and wastewater disposal installations for 15,000 houses and 290,000 people were for the most part unusable after the seaquake and tsunami disaster in December 2004.

The drinking water supply, which is primarily fed by tapping river water and reopening an earlier source, is a joint project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Swiss Federation, the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) and Swiss Solidarity. The project is being financed mainly by private donations (Swiss Solidarity 55%, SRC 22%), while technical realization was to a large extent carried out by SDC specialists (23% of costs). It is already clear that the installation will cost less than planned and come in under the budgeted CHF 6.5 million.

The drinking-water treatment plant, which was built in 21 months, is notable for its modern, low-maintenance technology. The earthquake-proof building methods, instruction and training of personnel, integration of local and international know-how and guaranteed support over the next five years fulfil all requirements for sustainability. In addition, it will later be possible to integrate the waterworks into an overall concept for the water supply for the city of Banda Aceh.

“Far more than just a technical facility”

“Water means life and is a basic requirement for the return to normality,” said Hanns Polak, Indonesia desk manager for SRC, commenting on the significance of this new facility for the population in a programme for Swiss Radio DRS. “So this installation is far more than a technical facility – ultimately it’s a contribution to promoting peace in this part of the world.”