Recovery Collection: 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami


The morning of December 26, 2004 saw the worst disaster in Indonesia’s history. A magnitude (M) 9.1 submarine earthquake occurred along the Indian Ocean subduction zone triggering a massive tsunami that destroyed 800 km of the coastal areas of Aceh Province with inundation observed as far as 6 km inland. Post disaster damage and loss assessment revealed staggering numbers on the calamity that include over 220,000 human fatalities and the destruction of 139,000 houses, 73,869 hectares of agricultural lands, 2,618 kilometers of roads, 3,415 schools, 104,500 small-medium enterprises, 13,828 fishing boats, 119 bridges, 669 government buildings, 517 health facilities, 1,089 worship places, 22 seaports, and 8 airports and airstrips (BRR-Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias, 2009). Added to these statistics, more than half a million tsunami survivors were internally displaced and hundreds of thousands more lost their livelihoods.

Almost within hours, news on the tsunami devastation of Aceh spread quickly around the world eventually sparking an unprecedented massive global community emergency response and relief effort. Given the extremely urgent situation on the grounds, the Government of Indonesia agreed to allow international military personnel coming from Asian and European countries, the United States, and Australia, among others, to participate in the disaster response operations that also included more than 600 local, national, and international non-governmental, community-based, civil society, multi-lateral, and UN organizations. Some of these organizations continued to be involved in the post-tsunami reconstruction and recovery phase. The reconstruction costs were estimated to be US $4.9 billion while committed funds from various sources including the international community donors and the Government of Indonesia amounted to US$ 6.7 billion (BRR, 2009).

Before embarking on a painstaking reconstruction effort, the Government of Indonesia created a “Master Plan for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias, North Sumatra”. Parallel to this effort, the government also established the Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias (BRR), an ad-hoc agency, first of its kind, mandated to implement and coordinate government-funded projects and coordinate donor- and NGO- funded projects from April 2005 to April 2009. The “Build Back Better” philosophy was adopted in the reconstruction effort. This guiding principle seeks to ensure that every reconstruction effort shall integrate the concept of Disaster Risk Reduction that would help reduce future disaster risk and build resilience. By the end of the project period, BRR had implemented and coordinated a total of roughly 12,000 projects.

Post-tsunami recovery and reconstruction efforts generally resulted in significant achievements in terms of housing, infrastructure, environment, agriculture, livelihood, health, local economy, education, and disaster management sectors. The enactment of Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 24/ 2007 concerning Disaster Management and the subsequent transformation of disaster management entities marked a major shift in disaster management paradigm in Indonesia which should help prepare Indonesia in responding more effectively to future disaster events.

Items: 48
This study documents IFRC’s response and recovery operation in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Over 4.8 million people benefited from a wide range of Red Cross Red Crescent support that included reconstruction of physical infrastructure such as homes, schools and health facilities as well as long-term recovery and disaster risk reduction programming. It reflects the scale of what is recorded as the deadliest tsunami in history – one that swept through coastal areas of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, and ten other Indian Ocean countries.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
This research aims to understand the inter-organizational network typology of large scale disaster intervention in developing countries and to understand complexity of post disaster intervention through the use of network theory based on empirical data from post tsunami reconstruction in Aceh, Indonesia, during 2005-2007. It addresses the ‘poly-centric’ features of emergency and reconstruction management, which promotes the notion that there are many overlapping centers of authority and responsibility for disaster risk reduction and post disaster intervention.
Institute of Resource Governance and Social Change
This publication outlines Sri Lanka's new approach to dealing with natural hazards in the context of disaster risk management. Issues addressed: (i) the need for education in disaster risk management and Sri Lanka's policy of teaching disaster safety in schools; (ii) the 'Disaster Risk Management & Psycho-social Care' project; (iii) results from the project, including educational facilities being better prepared for emergencies; and (iv) factors for success, including motivating political decision-makers, coordinating inter- and intra-ministerial cooperation, and utilising existing structures and processes to integrate disaster safety integration.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
Rebuilding Lives and Homes in Aceh and Nias, Indonesia
This document presents the experience and lessons learned from the implementation of the Earthquake and Tsunami Emergency Support Project (ETESP) housing program carried out by the Asian Development Bank in Indonesia.
Asian Development Bank
This document looks at the five years of international cooperation and political will following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. It draws lessons learned on the development and consolidation of tsunami and other sea level related hazard warning systems, striving to consolidate global coverage and international development, and to include disaster risk reduction initiatives within recovery and reconstruction activities and, more generally, within development strategies.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - Headquarters Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
This publication has been created with the intention of capturing key characteristics of the response and lessons learned, in a widely available format. It is intended to provide a valuable reference in future disaster responses. The content is based on the DEC Assurance Mission (Arup, 2007) as well as the authors observations and experiences on previous assignments in Aceh during the post-tsunami response. This is supported by further research and consultation, additional information provided by DEC Member Agencies and other documentation of the response. The views expressed are those of the authors.
Disaster Emergency Committee Arup International Development Practical Action
Making Aceh Safer Through Disaster Risk Reduction in Development (DRR-A)
The project “Making Aceh Safer Through Disaster Risk Reduction In Development (DRR-A)” is designed to make DRR a normal part of the development process established in core functions of Aceh’s local government and their public and private partners.
Indonesia - government
This publication provides a succinct account of the damage caused by the tsunami and its far-reaching impact on the lives and livelihoods of people in coastal Tamil Nadu. The book also documented the speedy decisions and the concerted rescue and relief measures taken by Government of Tamil Nadu and partners.
India - government
In this publication the Government of Tamil Nadu gives details regarding rehabilitation and the reconstruction programmes undertaken to revive coastal communities affected by the Tsunami in 2004.
India - government
This case study is part of the ODI HPG research programme on the role of the affected state in humanitarian action and aims to describe the essential elements of approach to disaster management as seen in its response to the 2001 Gujarat earthquake and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It also analyses policy trends in Disaster Management Act.
Overseas Development Institute