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Brussels, 20 December 2006

Post-Tsunami reconstruction: 2 years on

Two years after the tsunami hit South East Asia, the European Union (EU) and the international community have successfully made the transition from providing immediate humanitarian aid to reconstruction aid: helping local authorities and communities re-establish their lives within a longer term vision – re-building homes, livelihoods and infrastructure 100% of the €123 million humanitarian aid and 96% of the €350 million in medium and long-term reconstruction pledged by the European Commission has been contracted. The first concrete results are now being seen.

Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said: “The Commission has been determined to accompany the whole reconstruction process – not just give a short term reaction to the initial catastrophe. The challenge has been to "build back better" in the affected parts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The preparation work including needs assessment, co-ordination with other donors and with the local authorities took time. But this investment in quality work is now paying off: Families are taking up work and progressively moving into their new homes, people are using the new roads, and renewed education and social services are becoming available."

The EU response

The EU (Commission and Member states) played a leading role in the overall international response. It pledged and deployed funds and resources quickly: €560 million for humanitarian assistance and €1.5 billion for medium and long-tem reconstruction. The European Commission (EC) alone has committed €123 million in humanitarian aid and €350 million in rehabilitation and reconstruction, of which €240 million (51%) have already been disbursed into project activities. The EC support has focused on the three worst-affected countries: Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives as the other affected countries, India and Thailand, indicated that they would not need such support.

The EC First Year Progress Report[1], describes the initial emergency response. Rapid focused action by international donors working with national and local authorities ensured that affected people had sufficient food, water, shelter, sanitation and health services. The general consensus for the first year was that emergency relief successfully met the immediate humanitarian needs of the affected people.

Building on the success of the humanitarian assistance phase, the focus of assistance during the last eighteen months has been on getting governance structures working, and moving forward with projects in the critical areas of the recovery: recreating communities and livelihoods, rehabilitating the environment, rebuilding housing and transport infrastructure.

Country breakdown

1) In the case of Indonesia the reconstruction process is well underway. The consolidation of the Aceh peace process, which has significant support from the EU, provides a strong political basis for sustainable reconstruction.[2] In Aceh, the Commission’s Rapid Reaction Mechanism (RRM) helped finance the mediation activities which led to the signing of a peace agreement between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Government of Indonesia. A comprehensive range of EU measures (EU Aceh Monitoring Mission, short and long term EC assistance programmes, including support for the reintegration of GAM combatants) supports the peace process. The EU Aceh Monitoring Mission has just successfully completed its mandate.

The multi-donor trust fund (MDF) - an initiative led by the EU - is now gathering about €520 million in grants (85% from EC and Member States). It has already launched reconstruction projects in strategic areas for a value of €385 million (74% of total) and disbursed €171 million (33%).

The MDF is already making a major contribution to the regeneration of Aceh and Nias through employment creation and wealth generation projects that are getting people back to work and helping the recovery of whole communities. Altogether 48,000 full time jobs have been generated through local community work, full time employment in major projects such as waste management, infrastructure reconstruction, and new jobs in agriculture, making the Multi-Donor Fund the largest non-governmental employer in the recovery process.

Key achievements include:

  • Over one million m3 of tsunami waste cleared, almost 100,000 m3 of municipal waste collected and 620 hectares of rice fields cleared through the Fund's waste management project. This initiative has introduced or re-established municipal waste collection systems in 8 districts;
  • Establishment of a network of 13,000 facilitators for local community projects that reach all villages in Aceh and Nias. This network facilitated a democratic decision-making process for communities to plan and prioritize need in their area. Through this process, communities have built over 1,900 km of roads, 740 bridges, 240 school buildings, 1,143 irrigation and drainage units, 570 water units and 632 sanitation units, 40 health posts and have granted scholarships/apprenticeships to 7,082 people and micro-credits to 3,685 recipients.

The MDF – with the EU in the lead - is the best recent example of effective donor coordination. During the recent Aid Effectiveness Forum held in the Philippines in October 2006, the Aceh Reconstruction Agency declared "in the context of the Aceh reconstruction effort, we can identify the MDF as the fastest disburser of recovery funds in their projects, the quality of the current projects is high and they are set-up in response to the needs of the people, with a strong focus on community-driven development projects. Further we feel the MDF is currently the best forum for government and recovery dialogue, leading to a better coordination overall among donors and the government in the reconstruction of Aceh and Nias".

2) In Sri Lanka, despite the recent deterioration of the security situation, the EC continues its efforts to help communities recover and develop their livelihoods alongside the rehabilitation of major infrastructure and the environment. The EC is providing about €145 million in support of these activities.

Key achievements include:

  • About 1500 people were employed in the reconstruction and clean-up activities in the North and East;
  • re-establishment of the livelihoods of 150 families (agriculture, handicrafts, education, tourism, construction etc.) living in the wetland areas of Maandugange and Madampegange (Galle district);
  • assistance to 700 farmers and daily labourers from 15 villages in Jaffna growing millet and pulses; another 190 farming families received help in repairing cattle sheds and purchasing livestock in Ampara district;
  • improved community services including 30 km of access roads improving access for communities facilitating trade and availability of public services; and the reconstruction of 4.25 km of drainage channels further improving the sanitary conditions of target areas and reducing the risk of water borne communicable diseases; 5 Batticaloa villages benefiting from renewable energy programme (solar panels); and 3 schools reconstructed in Killinochchi and Mullaitivu;
  • 6 large scale infrastructure projects being implemented, including the construction of a main coastal trunk road, renovation of rural roads and minor water tanks; and the reconstruction of 2 bridges reconnecting Tamil and Muslim communities in Ampara;
  • the market place reconstructed in Jaffna.

3) The Maldives was the most affected country in per capita terms, and the EC is providing assistance to the immediate restart of livelihoods on affected atolls; and support to the longer-term regional development strategy (‘safe islands’ concept) with a focus on environmental infrastructure and the strengthening community services. The EC is providing about 20 million in support of these activities.

Key achievements include:

  • establishment of agriculture extension services in 14 islands; 6 fish processing centres constructed; 5 fish markets constructed; around 1200 women have received cash grants, training and tools enabling them to resume business.
  • inter-island regional development: 16 waste management centres under construction including waste collection and disposal; preparations for the construction of a further 22 island waste management centres and a Regional Waste Management Facility.

4) The Commission is undertaking a number of projects at a regional level in all the Indian Ocean countries (including India and Thailand), to share experiences and implement best practices regarding the recovery of the environment and local communities in a sustainable way.

Indeed, the tsunami disaster highlighted the need for effective early warning systems. The Commission, Member States and other donors are working with UN/ISDR[3] and other international organisations, to strengthen the national institutional capacities in disaster risk reduction and to increase public awareness and knowledge on tsunami risks. These Commission-supported activities are in support of the local communities' action programmes to protect their lives and livelihoods.
Details of the EC support are set out at the 2006 Progress Report on EC's Post Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Programme :

For further information please see:

For the tsunami assistance:

For the Aceh peace process:




[3] UN inter-agency secretariat for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR)

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