Tsunami recovery operation

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent assistance 2004-2013

Over 4.8 million people have benefited from Red Cross Red Crescent support during the tsunami operation. This assistance has been wide-ranging with the main focus being the reconstruction of physical infrastructure such as homes, schools and health facilities. The Red Cross Red Crescent’s holistic approach to recovery has also provided people with clean water, which has led to improvements in their health. People gained opportunities to start income generation projects that boost household revenues. To complete the approach, community-based risk reduction programmes help reduce the threats people face from future disasters.

The Red Cross Red Crescent movement has achieved its target of constructing 53,019 permanent houses. Water and sanitation programmes were carried out in most of the affected countries. In total some 707,600 people gained access to improved water sources. Community based first aid trainings including psychosocial support certified 278,600 persons. They play an important role in strengthening the resilience of communities. Their services already reached 1,1 million persons.

Boosting health

A significant part of the Red Cross Red Crescent legacy is the major improvement that has been made to upgrade and rebuild health infrastructure in Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Thousands of people living in rural areas are now benefiting from specialised services provided by new and improved hospitals and health centres.

Addressing the social, economic and health impacts of a lack of access to clean water is a high priority for the Red Cross Red Crescent. Building stronger and safer communities is at the heart of all Red Cross Red Crescent programmes, whether in health, water and sanitation, construction or livelihoods.

Psycho-social support

Many people in tsunami-affected communities were terrified of the sea as a result of the disaster. In many cases the ocean was life-blood of people’s economies before the disaster, and also a place where children swam and played. Getting children to share their stories of that terrible day, and put them down on paper, is considered an excellent first step in the psychological healing process. Red Cross Red Crescent psycho-social teams have spent considerable efforts encouraging children to begin talking, drawing and playing.

Of course, as many adults as children bear the psychological scars of living through such a devastating natural disaster. Many people have lost spouses, siblings, extended family members, children, and friends. Many are struggling to recover from serious injuries. As a result, the psycho-social programs undertaken by Red Cross Red Crescent are seen as every bit as important as the programs which provide for the physical needs of tsunami-affected populations.

Restoring livelihoods

When the tsunami struck on 26 December 2004, it left behind more than devastated lives, homes and community infrastructure. Entire industries, including thriving fishing and agriculture businesses, were swept away by nature’s random fury.

What people need, as much as all of these life-saving elements, is a job. Work brings money and security and rebuilds the social, psychological and economic fabric of disaster-struck communities. This is why, as a fundamental part of its tsunami operations, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is focusing on livelihoods assistance in tsunami-affected countries.

With the help of the Red Cross Red Crescent, entire industries were rebuilt. Significant cash-for-work schemes, the replacement of lost or damaged boats and fishing equipment, the training of workers in the construction industry, and agricultural assistance helped survivors to rebuild their lives. Also prioritized were micro-credit schemes and cottage-industry support.

Water and sanitation

Red Cross Red Crescent Water and Sanitation teams were deployed in the immediate aftermath of the terrible tsunamis to secure water supplies and assist with the massive task of disease prevention and well rehabilitation. By December 2009 over 688,100 people in the affected countries had access to an improved water source. 

Response mechanisms


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