Your Majesty, Queen Sofia of Spain
Your Excellency, Ambassador of Spain to Indonesia
Your Excellency, Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Government of Spain
Respected Members of the Spanish Embassy
Head of Ladong Fisheries Vocational School
Fellow FAO colleagues
Ladies and gentleman
On behalf of Jacques Diouf, FAO Director General, the staff of FAO in Indonesia and on my own behalf, I welcome you all to the official opening of the Ladong shrimp hatchery, made possible largely through generous funding support from the government of Spain.
We are especially honored with the presence of Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain. We are grateful to you, Your Majesty, for your gracious acceptance to preside over this ceremony here in the Aceh province of Indonesia.
What begun at 07:58 a.m. on a calm morning on 26 December 2004 as one of the most massive earthquakes in recorded history, sent a series of enormous waves – a tsunami – radiating out in all directions, devasting Aceh and reaching as far away as South Africa. The surging waters crashed into coastlines of 15 countries around the rim of the Indian Ocean, taking the lives of 283 000 people. Even more people lost their livelihoods or were left homeless and destitute by the disaster.
Infrastructure was also damaged and destroyed by the waves. Roads, bridges, water supply facilities, electrical generating stations, transport and communications facilities, hotels, schools, businesses and homes were damaged or destroyed.
In all, the tsunami had a devastating impact on the livelihoods of villagers in coastal fishing and farming communities. Most of these villagers were already poor before the tsunami hit, and were dependent upon production assets, such as fishing boats and gear, and seeds and fertilizers, for their means to earn an income. Many of these assets were lost in the disaster.
A disaster of the magnitude of the 2004 Asian tsunami required a rapid and total response from governments, international agencies and nongovernmental organizations. FAO rose to the challenge. The organization began working just one day after the tsunami and, over the past two years, has been working on “building back better” with a wide range of partners to assist the people of Aceh and Nias recover from the catastrophe, regenerate their natural resources and rebuild their livelihoods for a more prosperous and sustainable future.
A comprehensive fisheries recovery and development programme is under way to support the fisheries-dependent people of Aceh, which totals nearly 20 percent of the province’s population. With generous support from the people and the government of Spain, this programme is succeeding in helping fishers return to the seas; fish and shrimp farmers rebuild ponds and hatcheries to improved standards; and fish processors reclaim lost activities and small-scale businesses.
In addition, funds provided by the government of Spain are training the tsunami survivors and enabling them to re-create their livelihood chain. With key support from Spain, this chain is now once again bringing the products of the sea to the shore, to markets, and finally to the table.
In the field of aquaculture, 150 hectares of fish and shrimp ponds have been completely restocked and fully reactivated, including the rehabilitation of 30 km of ponds embankments, the repair of 10 km of aquaculture canals, the provision of inputs and training to more than 200 fish farmers, and the provision of cash-for-work rehabilitation activities to more than 200 households.
FAO is introducing a much improved bio-secure pilot hatchery, which we will visit shortly. This hatchery is a model, used also for the design of an additional nine other hatcheries as well as for the training of hatchery staff on improved management practices.
In capture fisheries, the goal is to put more coastal fishers back to sea for safer and more efficient catches. Through this programme, 30 boat builders were trained by FAO for improved boat design, construction and engine alignment. In addition, FAO experts have provided technical assistance for the construction of 200 boats – 100 of which were supported through NGOs.
In fish processing, tools and equipment were given to almost 200 small-scale fish processing units, creating opportunities for higher quality and more diversified products. The beneficiaries are trained in improved handing, processing and marketing of fish boiling, drying and salting.
In total, the financial support from the government of Spain has been €1.5 million up to date, while an additional €1.0 million was recently confirmed by the Spanish government to continue for another 18 months the programmes targeting tsunami- and conflict-affected farming and fishing communities for improved food security and livelihoods in the Aceh province. This new programme will assist another 5 000 households in agricultural production and introduce more streamlined fishing commercialization practices.
Throughout its post-tsunami operations, FAO’s emphasis has been on optimizing sustainable outcomes and rebuilding livelihood opportunities for vulnerable fishing and farming families to enhance their food security and incomes. FAO has provided technical guidance and expertise to the government of Indonesia through its close collaboration with the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Forestry. As a result, the government of Indonesia was able to develop a rehabilitation and reconstruction strategy in Aceh and Nias for agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
Through advisory and coordination support to the Bureau for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (BRR) for Aceh and Nias, FAO is effectively helping to coordinate humanitarian efforts in the region, while continuing to provide direct assistance to the fishing and farming communities affected by the tsunami on both the eastern and western coasts of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD) as well as on Nias Island in North Sumatra.
Allow me to emphasize, however, that the generous and continued financial support provided by Spain has greatly improved the livelihoods of tsunami affected small fishers. Fishers are now returning to the seas for safer catches; fish and shrimp farmers are rebuilding, restocking and reactivating ponds and hatcheries; and fish processors are finally resuming activities.
The Food and Agriculture Organizaiton of the United Nations sincerely thanks Her Majesty Queen Sofia for her championing FAO’s mission for achieving global food security and, in particular, for her strong personal interest in the work being carried by FAO in the province of Aceh.
We also deeply appreciate the Spanish International Cooperation Agency for their continued partnership with the people of Aceh, various institutions of the Indonesian government, and with FAO. This generous support, I believe is not only appreciated by the international community, but also will be remembered by the people of Aceh.
Finally, I would like to express our gratitude to the government of Indonesia, particularly the Governor of Aceh and the Head of Ladong Fisheries Vocational School, who have worked closely with FAO in making the model hatchery an integral part of their Ladong Fisheries Vocational School. This model hatchery will be a key to improving the quality and efficient production of shrimp, which in turn will have multiple positive economic effects for the people of Aceh in this recovery period.