Tsunami--five years after

Five years have passed since the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami--one of the largest-scale disasters in modern history, both in terms of its geographic reach (it affected more than a half-dozen countries) and the global response it prompted.

Boy in front of house
In Kuala Tadu, Aceh, a boy who survived the tsunami in front of his family's new home, constructed by Church World Service/ACT.
Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT

Five years have passed since the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami--one of the largest-scale disasters in modern history, both in terms of its geographic reach (it affected more than a half-dozen countries) and the global response it prompted.

Former UN humanitarian coordinator Jan Egeland called tsunami recovery "an extraordinary effort, probably unique in the history of humankind."

Chris Herlinger of CWS--who just completed a book on the tsunami response--recently interviewed CWS Indonesia Director Michael Koeniger, about CWS’s continuing tsunami-response efforts and ongoing work in tsunami-affected regions.

The story Koeniger tells is full of complexity--not surprising in a response that was unprecedented for CWS and other global humanitarian agencies.

Overall, he says, CWS was successful--we “achieved what we set out to do, in some cases even achieving more than planned--more beneficiaries for the livelihood program in Nias, for example. I do think that the goals were met. This has been confirmed by several evaluations of our work.”

At the same time, Koeniger points out that a continued challenge for CWS is “to raise funds to continue our work in Aceh and Nias, as there are many remaining unmet needs. That includes ways to overcome donor fatigue--or ‘tsunami fatigue’--as there might be a perception that the work is done. It's not.”

Church World Service’s on-the-ground tsunami efforts were based largely in Indonesia's Aceh province, where CWS had worked prior to the tsunami, as well as supporting CWS partner work in India and Sri Lanka. Efforts also focused on the impoverished Indonesian region of Nias, the site of a March 2005 earthquake.

CWS efforts in Indonesia focused on housing reconstruction and rehabilitation, supplementary feeding, and distribution of medicines and CWS Health and Baby Care Kits and other non-food items. CWS also provided access to clean water and sanitation facilities, as well as trauma counseling, psychosocial support and child development programs.

Read Chris Herlinger’s interview with CWS Indonesia Director Michael Koeniger.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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