A year after the quake in Yogyakarta people still live in tents and bamboo buildings
by Mathias Hariyadi
Indonesia on Sunday remembered the victims of last year’s earthquake in Yogyakarta (Central Java). AsiaNews reports a year later from the affected areas. Tens of thousands of families have run of government aid and cannot rebuild their homes. Many live in temporary tents and children attend school in bamboo classrooms.

Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) – With families still living in emergency tents and children going to school in makeshift bamboo classrooms, AsiaNews has gone back to see how people are faring a year after a devastating earthquake struck Yogyakarta (Bantul Regency). What is most noticeable now is that people are left just with hope to get back to normal and waiting for government aid and more permanent buildings.

On Sunday a ceremony was held in the Prambanan Temple compound in Prambanan (Central Java Province) to commemorate the tragedy that saw a year ago to the day some 6,000 people die and another million left homeless when the earth shook.

Thousands of people came for the occasion, including Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Well-known Imam Nawawi Abdul Azis led the prayer service reciting some verses from the Qu’ran.

Many were not able to hold back tears, not only for the loved ones they lost, but also for the precarious situation they have to face at present.

“We are crying because we remember that day,” said Bantul resident Sumber Agung, “but worries us the most is how we can live after the disaster. Government assistance is over and now we must fend for ourselves.”

According to a recent official survey, some 3,500 families are still living in tents in Yogyakarta and Klaten Regency. But the real number might actually be higher.

Last week AsiaNews travelled to the villages of Pasung, Bayat, Pesu, Canan in the Wedi subdistrict where many people have run out of food and drugs and do not have any money to rebuild their homes, according to Warsito, 35, from Pasung.

According to Danang Parikesit, secretary of the National Technical Team for Post Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction in Yogyakarta, the problem is how aid was distributed.

“In Yogyakarta funds were given out on the basis of priority. Elsewhere, they were handed out based on an equal share model which failed to provide people with enough money to rebuild their homes.”

Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono X apologised for the delays in providing families with aid. He pledged money for reconstruction, 15 million IDR (US$ 1,710) for those who lost their homes, 4 million IDR for the 96,000 people whose homes were seriously damaged, and 1 million IDR for the 162,000 whose homes were slightly damaged.

But in Bantul Regency some people are still living in bamboo structures, donated by foreign NGOs during the initial post-quake emergency phase. Some elementary schools, too, use bamboo cubicles as classrooms in Kasihan and Trimulyo in Jetis, in the same regency.

The situation has led Bantul mayor to slam Jakarta for its failure to pay adequate attention to the need to rebuild schools. So many pupils and teachers are still waiting for proper schools in brick and mortar.

According to the Education Department in Yogyakarta, the quake destroyed at least 148 schools damaging another 537.