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.

Disaster management may have improved after the Asian Tsunami, but economic development has brought in new risks, writes P. G. Dhar Chakrabarti for SciDevNet. With the new legal and institutional framework of disaster management as the new focus globally, he highlights that although disaster mortality has decreased, globalisation has increased hazard exposure...
Science and Development Network
Great progress has been achieved in rebuilding the lives of farmers in Aceh 10 years after the catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami. However some agriculture and fisheries sector may recover temporarily as the tsunami aid legacy is declining...
Jakarta Post, the
The objective of this study is to analyse the strengths, weaknesses, sustainability and impact of the 26th of December 2004 tsunami response in 2 countries, Sri Lanka and Indonesia (Aceh Province). Cutting across these themes is an assessment of whether communities are now better prepared to respond to and cope with disaster.
Save the Children International
Ever since the tsunami struck the Tamil Nadu coast and snuffed out thousands of lives exactly a decade ago, there has been a paradigm shift in the focus of disaster management. A report on progress in Tamil Nadu, where central and state government, communities and villages participate in reducing disaster risk...
The Indian Express
Based on recent research on the 10-year tsunami recovery, four aspects within the government — tsunami risk understanding, disaster data openness and accessibility and integration of the tsunami risk map into spatial planning and policies —have produced solid achievements...
Jakarta Post, the
Tsunami drill in Galle, photo from Galle Disaster Management Center
'At that time, they did not know which direction to run. Today, with the coordination of the DMC and its community based activities including early warning drills, the village is now prepared to congregate at the temple which is situated on higher ground, and is equipped to give refuge to people in time of a disaster...'
World Bank, the
'When you forget, you don't prepare,' said Margareta Wahlstrom, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, who played a leading role in organising the UN response and recovery efforts following the Indian Ocean Tsunami a decade ago...
Nation, the - Nation Multimedia - Thailand
by  Chuck Simmins CC BY 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/chucksimmins/2947856660
As the 10th anniversary of the disaster approaches, experts and officials say weaknesses remain across the region in a system designed to warn people and get them to safety. For millions in coastal areas, warnings don't always get through, thanks to bureaucratic confusion and geography...
Thomson Reuters Foundation, trust.org

Manuals and guides no 50, ICAM dossier no 5:

These guidelines have been compiled within the context of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters following the disastrous December 2004

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - Headquarters Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission World Meteorological Organization

This case study presents a summary of investigative studies conducted for risk assessment of the city of Galle in Sri Lanka and focuses on development of simplified approach to risk assessment, planning of mitigation measures and their implementation in

United Nations Development Programme - Asia-Pacific Regional Centre