A Decade On, Indian Ocean Tsunami-Affected Communities Tell Save the Children About Their Recovery

Save the Children reunited Mustafa (left) with his daughter Rina, 15, (right), one month after the Indian Ocean tsunami struck on December 24, 2004. The strong current from the water carried Rina, then 5, away from her mother and sisters, who died. Her father, a truck driver at that time, was out of town when the earthquake and tsunami occurred. Photo credit: CJ Clarke/Save the Children
Save the Children reunited Mustafa (left) with his daughter Rina, 15, (right), ten years after the Indian Ocean tsunami struck on December 24, 2004. The strong current from the water carried Rina, then 5, away from her mother and sisters, who died. Her father, a truck driver at that time, was out of town when the earthquake and tsunami occurred. Photo credit: CJ Clarke/Save the Children

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FAIRFIELD, Conn.(December 21, 2014) — December 26, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, which resulted in an estimated 230,000 deaths across South-east and South Asia.

Save the Children's tsunami response covered India, Indonesia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand from 2004 to 2009, and was the largest emergency response in the aid agency's history. Worldwide, $284 million was raised to operate programs in all five countries.

Through the eyes and voices of families living in tsunami-affected communities, Save the Children analyzed the strengths, weaknesses, sustainability and impact of the tsunami response in Sri Lanka and Indonesia (Aceh Province), and looks at the extent to which communities are better prepared to respond to and cope with natural disasters.

"Ten years after the tsunami, it is vital to review the long-term impact of humanitarian and recovery programs," said Mike Novell, regional director of South and Central Asia for Save the Children.

The agency's study, conducted this past summer, highlighted four key findings:

  • Children are the most vulnerable in times of a disaster: It is essential that children are prepared for future disasters, and are regularly informed about methods to keep themselves safe. Save the Children has introduced a wide-reaching school program in which children teach their peers about best practices for safety and evacuation procedures in times of disaster.
  • The importance of investing in disaster reduction: Progress has been made in both Sri Lanka and Indonesia to strengthen disaster management policy and bolster government capacity. Modifications in the new construction of houses and public buildings so they withstand future natural disasters, coupled with investments in early warning systems and tsunami evacuation infrastructures represent important changes, At the community level, there is now a far greater awareness of what to do in the event of a disaster in the future.
  • Participation as the cornerstone of humanitarian response and recovery: When people were able to determine their own future, they tended to have greater ownership of the outcome. When they received relief items as passive recipients, they were often grateful but more critical.
  • Partnership as a pre-requisite for long-term change: Programs undertaken in partnership with governments tend to have led to the most enduring changes. This kind of partnership takes time to establish, but it has the potential to provide a level of sustainability that is rarely achievable through other approaches.

Read the full study.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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