Andy Jamahuddin, 39, is building a gate outside his orange-coloured, tiny two-bedroom house, in the ghostly Gampong Blong village, in Banda Aceh's Ule Lheu neighbourhood. He does not have much to protect but, 'it is to keep the dogs out', he explained. Mr Jamahuddin lives with his wife Flores, 29, their two children - four-year-old Cut and toddler Teuku - as well as his younger brother, Hunawir, a taciturn 20-year old. 'He is the only brother I have left,' said Mr Jamahuddin, whose three other siblings and parents were swept away when the tsunami swallowed this area on December 26, 2004. 'The whole family used to live here, but now it is only us left.' Inside the house, porcelain flowers and plastic plants add colour to some basic furniture. Pictures on the wall remember lost loved ones, while several blossoming flower pots on the garden fence show that life goes on. Outside, Cut draws imaginary routes in the air with a home-made toy plane. He plays about 20 metres from where an open drain discharges the family's domestic waste, feeding a pond of murky water and fetid smell. 'It needs to be connected to the main drain,' said Mr Jamahuddin, who nonetheless stated that he was lucky. 'I like this house very much. It is not finished, but it is more than most people have. We even have running water and electricity.' The people of the Indonesian province of Aceh suffered the hardest blow when the tsunami brought death and destruction to countries bordering the Indian Ocean rim. The combined number of dead and missing around the world was estimated at nearly 230,000, with Sri Lanka, India and Thailand following Aceh on the grim chart of those worst hit. Casualties were recorded as far away as Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia and the Seychelles. Two years on, much effort has gone into rebuilding Aceh, but many survivors are still living among the ruins as they wait for their villages to be restored. Situated on the western border of the province's capital, Ule Lheu was one of Banda Aceh's most exotic neighbourhoods. However, its proximity to the sea meant that after the series of killer waves struck the shore, all that was left was rubble and death. Most of the rebuilding of Gampong Blong is being carried out by World Vision. It aims to build more than 100 houses that will be inhabited by about 200 families, 65 of which have already decided to move in, despite the precarious conditions. 'The rest are still living with friends, in rented accommodation or in barracks,' said Mr Jamahuddin, adding that the project should be finished by the beginning of next year. Ten minutes walk from Mr Jamahuddin's house, Nourjeli, 27, swats flies from her five-year-old son, Mukhtar, who is restlessly trying to sleep, crouching by their house's portico. 'It is cooler out here,' said Mrs Nourjeli, who like most Indonesians has just one name. Mrs Nourjeli shares the house with her second husband, Salam, 50. Her first husband, Nasarudhin, was killed four years ago during the 29-year separatist conflict that claimed about 30,000 lives before a peace agreement was signed in Finland, in August 2005. Mr Salam lost his first wife and his five children in the tsunami. 'He is a good man, he is out working; he sells kitchenware,' Mrs Nourjeli said. Inside their house, flimsy curtains separate the living room from the kitchen and the bedroom. A pink plastic chair, a water dispenser, a bed and a television are the only pieces of furniture in the otherwise barren house that has no electricity or running water. 'To wash dishes, clothes or to bathe we use the water in the cisterns down the road. But I am happy,' Mrs Nourjeli said. 'Until two weeks ago we were living in barracks. We lived there for one year and it was much worse. Before that, we lived in a tent for months, and that was terrible. Yes, all in all, we are lucky.' The rebuilding of Mrs Nourjeli's village is proof of the constant but rather slow and clumsy rebuilding of the province. The families waiting to move in are among the 25,000 that Oxfam estimates are still waiting for a permanent home in the province. The number is far too large for former US President Bill Clinton, who urged 'a faster work rate' when he visited the region in early December, in his role as the UN's tsunami recovery envoy. On the same day, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla was even more disappointed when he looked around and asked Kuntoro Mangkusubroto where Jakarta's US$1.4 billion contribution to the relief effort had been spent. Mr Kuntoro heads the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency, a government agency set up to supervise and co-ordinate the post-tsunami work. Regardless of the criticism, the agency's task was, and still is, daunting. In Aceh and surrounding areas alone, an estimated 167,700 people were killed by the tsunami, 37,000 went missing and 500,000 were internally displaced. Although frightening, the figures do not convey the level of destruction that is imprinted in the minds of those who witnessed it first-hand, or those who have travelled to the region. A journalist who visited the area soon after the tsunami described the scene as 'utter annihilation; walls of desperation and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness that sticks to your skin and cannot be scrubbed away'. According to various sources, the tsunami destroyed an estimated 141,000 houses, 2,240 schools and 592 health facilities in the province. The United Nations also estimates that eight seaports, four fuel depots, 85 per cent of clean-water facilities, 92 per cent of sanitation facilities, 120 kilometres of roads, 18 bridges and 20 per cent of electrical distribution points were destroyed or contaminated. The total damage was estimated at US$4.5 billion. The waves also destroyed about 40,000 hectares of rice fields and 70 per cent of the fishing industry. The disaster prompted an unprecedented international response and at least US$13.5 billion was pledged. For Aceh alone, US$7.1 billion was promised, although only an estimated US$4.5 billion has since been committed. Two years later, the reconstruction agency says 57,000 houses have been rebuilt and 22,000 more are still under way. The agency is aiming to complete 120,000 permanent houses by 2007. The agency has also constructed thousands of temporary shelters, as well as hospitals, health centres and schools. It claims to have overseen the construction and repair of 1,500km of roads, 158 bridges, seven ferry terminals, seven harbours, seven airports and one airstrip. Much more has been done by the hundreds of NGOs and international organisations that rushed to the area in the wake of the disaster. The influx, however, also created many problems, as highlighted in a report released in July by the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition, a group of 40 charities and development agencies established to monitor the response to the tsunami. Among the various glitches, the report points out that some areas received too much help while others received too little. The report also highlights that the tsunami reconstruction turned into a sort of humanitarian competition and, 'the urgency to spend money quickly and visibly led to many poorly executed aid projects and acted against the best interests of the affected people'. In one case, the report says, one agency erected houses where another had agreed to build a road. It also talks of many promises never kept, many projects left unfinished and many more finished very poorly. Oxfam, for example, pledged to build more than 1,600 houses in Aceh, but by last September it had completed only about half of them. Save the Children, on the other hand, was forced to dismiss three of its in-house building inspectors when it discovered that 371 out of the 571 houses it had built in the Indonesian province had to be torn down because of major structural problems. However, Rufriadi, spokesman for the reconstruction agency, said things were getting better. 'There is no doubt that we have had problems in co-ordinating with NGOs, especially those that came to help from abroad,' he said. 'But things have improved dramatically and we hope that by the time the agency ends its mandate in 2009, the work will be done.' Responding to criticism about the quality of the houses, he said the agency had set standards for contractors. 'When the standard is not met, we order contractors to do more works, so that in the end, we will give the tsunami victims only proper housing,' he said. Officials say the biggest problem is the lack of land titles. Many people in Aceh never had proper documents that certified the ownership of the land where their houses stood, and the tsunami destroyed most of the existing records. 'We cannot go ahead and build, unless there is a clear indication of who owns the land,' Mr Rufriadi said. 'We need a clear instrument to regulate land ownership here in Aceh. We have requested Jakarta to legislate on this matter a very long time ago but we are still waiting.' Another dark cloud hovering over the post-tsunami reconstruction is corruption, a gangrene that according to Akhiruddin Mahjuddin, co-ordinator of the Aceh-based Anti-Corruption Movement, has tainted at least 40 per cent of the reconstruction projects. 'There is a lot of corruption within [reconstruction agency], especially in the housing projects. This has led to a waste of money and to the construction of houses with poor material, which means that some have already started to fall down,' Mr Akhiruddin said. During 2006, the agency discovered 131 suspected internal cases of corruption. 'Those paying the price of this corruption are the poor people, the uneducated and those who cannot make their voices heard,' Mr Akhiruddin said. Back in Gampong Blong village, Cut still flies his wooden sticks tied together to make a plane; Mukhtar has awoken and lingers around the house, while Nourjeli goes back and forth to the cisterns to fill buckets with water. 'Yes, of course,' Mrs Nourjeli replied when asked, 'life would be easier if only we had water and electricity at home. But what can I do? I can only wait.'