Aceh still struggling to end poverty after 2004 tsunami

Aceh still struggling to end poverty after 2004 tsunami
While families will never be rebuilt nor the trauma forgotten, interviews with survivors across the devastated coastlines of Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia show how lives have been transformed

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Ten years have passed since the Indian Ocean tsunami, which claimed over 220,000 lives, but the Indonesian province of Aceh is still wrestling with the fundamental changes necessary for economic development.

Aceh, one of the areas most heavily damaged by the 2004 tsunami, has rebuilt much of its infrastructure in the past decade. Late-model vehicles, including eco-cars, frequent the roads in its capital city, Banda Aceh.

"Housing and road infrastructure has improved considerably since the disaster," says a local college student.

The city has also enjoyed more peace and order. The Free Aceh Movement, an armed separatist group also know as GAM, signed a peace deal with the Indonesian government in 2005, ending a decades-old conflict. The agreement was made possible partly due to damages from the tsunami, as well as the depletion of natural gas, the region's main export.

But, according to a local lawmaker, "the reconstruction would not be complete without eliminating poverty and inequality."

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