Timeliness and Safety are at Issue as Java Rebuilds after the Massive May 2006 Earthquake

The approaching monsoon season is adding to the challenge of providing adequate shelter to the 800,000 survivors of an earthquake that struck Indonesia’s Java island in May 2006. The disaster killed close to 6,000 people. In terms of the 1.5 million people it rendered homeless, it is one of the world's most devastating in a century—alongside Hurricane Mitch in Honduras in 1998, a 1999 Turkish earthquake, a 2005 earthquake in Kashmir and Pakistan, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Some 700,000 people are now living in decent shelter, but 800,000 more survivors remain vulnerable. Donors have provided only 40 percent of aid money requested by the United Nations. And Indonesia's government has been slow in providing grants for housing reconstruction. Losing patience, the victims have demanded more rapid and simplified distribution of aid. In addition to timeliness of rebuilding, safety is another concern. Dave Hodgkin of the U.N. Development Programme is concerned that new housing may be unsafe in the earthquake-prone region: “We are deeply concerned the permanent construction that's going on now will be a 'build backward,' instead of 'build back better'.”