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Tsunami reconstruction update

Starting at Aceh’s Ground Zero

It is early morning in Aceh.

The International Federation’s landing craft, Sumber Mas, travelled through dark waters just north-west of Aceh province in Sumatra, Indonesia in March. The Sumber Mas was carrying two fully-loaded, five-tonne cargo trucks, a small pick-up, stacks of large water tanks and neat piles of supplies and tools. The cargo was destined for Pulau Aceh, a small island in the vicinity of what is referred to as Aceh’s Ground Zero. Also aboard were International Federation delegates and members of the British Red Cross (BRC) and Indonesian Red Cross (PMI).

There is no village left where the boat has landed at Gugup on Pulau Aceh. The 26 December tsunami obliterated every building, tore away the streets, and even gouged deep into the rocky earth, carving a new bay where much of the village once stood.

If the earth herself could be reconstructed, the recovery of Aceh could still never be complete. In tiny Gugup, Fiona McShee, BRC technical adviser, says 520 of 810 villagers perished. Over 100 of the 290 survivors are under the age of 17, because most of the school-age children happened to be away at a graduation ceremony in a neighbouring village on the morning of the disaster. There are 55 orphans, 25 widows and 37 widowers; everyone here lost a loved one.

For the next few years, as part of a BRC and PMI livelihoods and reconstruction programme, villagers from Gugup will come to Pulau Aceh in shifts of 100 or so to begin the slow work of cleaning the debris-strewn ruins of their village. As part of 13,000 Acehnese families in the programme’s planned scope, they will receive money for their work, which they will budget for food and other necessities.

Later, they will redraw their new villages, stake out their plots, choose housing plans and open bank accounts where the programme will deposit incremental payments for them to buy materials for constructing their own houses or businesses.

But, being able to buy lumber will be a challenge, as supplies are scarce.

Logistical problems will also slow down the reconstruction process. Distances are great, roads and bridges are still damaged or destroyed. There is no electricity. Communications are unreliable at best. Access can be impossible. It’s going to be a very long time before Aceh’s Ground Zero is a village again.

Virgil Grandfield
Virgil Grandfield is International Federation information delegate in Aceh, Indonesia.


With Indonesia the country most devastated by the 26 December 2004 earthquake and tsunami, and then struck again by another strong quake on 28 March 2005, the consequent need for assistance is enormous. Aid has been offered both through supporting the International Federation and the ICRC in a traditional multilateral approach, and through bilateral agreements with the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI).

International Federation

Main reconstruction activities include:
• Provision of basic relief items and food parcels for 300,000 people affected by the tsunami in Aceh, north Sumatra.
• Provision of basic relief items and food parcels for 229,000 people affected by the 28 March earthquake in Nias, north Sumatra.
• Provision of health care services, both curative and preventative, through 12 mobile health clinics for 200,000 people.
• Provision of health services and first aid in 12 camps for 20,000 displaced people.
• Reconstruction, rehabilitation and equipping of 20 clinics.
• Provision of potable water supply in 200 affected villages for 200,000 people.
• Well rehabilitation, latrine provision and hygiene promotion in 17 temporary living centres and 200 villages for approximately 134,000 people.
• Rehabilitation and reconstruction of schools and community centres.
• Training 200 Red Cross volunteers and 1,000 community members to provide psychological support to communities.
• Community-based disaster preparedness training and disaster response trainings for at least 2,850 Red Cross volunteers.
• Strengthening emergency response/preparedness capacity in most high-risk areas in Indonesia, including early warning/emergency communication systems.
• Construction of over 25,000 homes in Aceh province and 2,500 homes on Nias island.
• Income assistance for 25,000 families of approximately US $3,000 to 5,000 for each.
• Planting mangrove trees along Aceh’s coastline employing local people to carry out the work.
• Ongoing capacity-building support for PMI.


Main activities in response to the tsunami and ongoing conflict include:
• Provide 15,000 internally displaced people (IDP), host and returnee families with 300 clean-up kits to facilitate community-based clean-up and enable them to salvage damaged belongings.
• Provide 10,000 IDP, host and returnee families with 200 community-reconstruction kits to facilitate the repair of and move back to their homes.
• Improve public health services for an estimated 27,000 people in villages not assisted by other organizations.
• Continue to provide chemicals and assistance with emergency maintenance of water-treatment facilities in the main urban areas of Aceh province.
• Tracing family members with the PMI and support family reunifications involving children and other vulnerable groups such as elderly and sick people.
• The ICRC will continue to provide medical supplies to health facilities in Aceh.
• The 100-bed ICRC/PMI field hospital, provided by the Norwegian Red Cross, has been handfed over to the Indonesian authorities.
• The ICRC will continue to ensure that all people in the region arrested and held in connection with conflict, violence or alleged terrorist offences benefit from satisfactory material, physical and psychological conditions of detention and humane treatment.
• Ensure that detainees are able to restore and maintain contact with their relatives.
• The ICRC is helping to restore the capacity of the PMI in Aceh to respond to needs arising from conflict or natural disaster.

Partner National Societies

American Red Cross, Australian Red Cross, British Red Cross, Belgian Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross, Hong Kong branch of Red Cross Society of China, Japanese Red Cross, Korean Red Cross, Malaysian Red Crescent, Netherlands Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross, Saudi Arabian Red Crescent Society, Singapore Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross, Taiwan Red Cross Organization, Turkish Red Crescent Society.


In Sri Lanka over 31,000 people lost their lives, 21,000 were injured and 5,000 remain missing. More than 500,000 were forced from their homes. 100,000 people are still living in nearly 300 temporary camps for internally displaced people. Over 70 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies contributed towards the post-tsunami relief efforts and more than 30 are directly involved in relief and recovery operations.

International Federation

Main reconstruction activities include:
• Reconstruction and rehabilitation of 34 health facilities in ten affected districts throughout Sri Lanka.
• Improvement of temporary living conditions for 300,000 people living in camps.
• Construction of 15,000 houses, providing homes for 75,000 people.
• Assistance to 30,000 families who have had their livelihoods damaged or destroyed.
• Replacement of damaged local water and sanitation systems and provision of sanitation services to benefit 100,000 people.
• Provision of psychological support and health services for 50,000 people.
• Restoration of livelihoods of 14,000 people, providing tools and equipment to carpenters, tailors, fishermen.
• Organization of community debris clearance programmes.
• Enhancement of community-based health programmes.
• Training in disaster preparedness for Red Cross staff, volunteers and communities.
• Development of responsive first-aid programmes at community level.
• Development of voluntary blood donor recruitment programme.
• Ongoing institutional capacity building of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS).


Main activities in response to the tsunami and ongoing conflict include:
• Provide families with in-kind assistance or cash vouchers that enable them to replace or repair vital assets.
• Repair public infrastructure or re-establish traditional income-generating activities in 60 communities, and in 60 more inland or neighbouring villages that have been affected economically by the tsunami.
• Provide 5,000 people living in camps with tents and establish temporary water supply for them.
• Provide technical and material support for the National Water Supply and Drainage Board.
• Deliver equipment to ten primary health care facilities to provide outpatient and antenatal care.
• Distribute medical and surgical supplies for ten hospitals and five specialized regional hospitals.
• Support a SLRCS mobile health team serving those affected by the tsunami in Mutur and Eachchilampattai.
• Continue to support the SLRCS’s ability to restore family links, provide community health education, respond to the needs of victims of conflict and promote international humanitarian law.

Partner National Societies

American Red Cross, Australian Red Cross, Austrian Red Cross, Belgian Red Cross, British Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, Finnish Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross, Hong Kong branch of Red Cross Society of China, Irish Red Cross, Japanese Red Cross, Korean Red Cross, Luxembourg Red Cross, Malaysian Red Crescent, Netherlands Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross, Saudi Arabian Red Crescent, Singapore Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross, Taiwan Red Cross Organization, Turkish Red Crescent.

Sri Lanka: grief and courage

“My relatives and neighbours visit a lot,” explains 32-year-old Ameen Faseela.

“They encourage me to be normal. I cry often over my lost children, but they give me moral strength.” When the tsunami hit the town of Muthur in eastern Sri Lanka on 26 December, she and her husband, Abdul Jabar Ameen, lost their three-month-old son as well as a 6-year-old nephew they had cared for since infancy.

“Like many others in the town, we try not to feel too much. If we allow our emotions to come through, who will take care of the children?” she asks. It is during the night that the events come back to her.

Her husband pilots the small boat which serves as an ICRC ferry between Muthur and Trincomalee, a half-hour trip across the bay. He was at sea when the tsunami devastated his home and family.

“At first I was too preoccupied with the children to worry about my husband,” says his wife, “but then my son started asking about his father and we prayed for him.”

Faseela says she not only receives support from her neighbours, in turn she also helps them. “I ask them how they lived through it and I tell my story,” she explains. “We talk about how we all survived and how we must continue our lives together.”

Ameen returned to work piloting the ICRC boat three days after the tsunami. “Sometimes when I am at sea, I imagine my house and family under water,” he says. “It’s better when I am working with other ICRC staff and avoid thinking about my family.”

“He has a job to do,” explains his wife.

International Federation reconstruction programme
in other tsunami-affected regions


• Provision of temporary shelter for 9,500 people.
• Provision of 5,000 mattresses and cooking utensils for 3,000 people.
• Community clear-up programmes and waste management for 200,000 people.
• Provision of community water storage and distribution system for 50,000 people.
• Improvement of water and sanitation facilities for 4,000 people.
• Improvement of rain harvesting systems for 100,000 people.
• Support livelihood requirements of 10,000 people through various relief items.
• Construction of 2,150 homes to benefit over 10,000 people.
• Construction of two pre-schools, two primary schools, one secondary school, one town hall, one community centre and one community guest house.
• Reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged health centres and hospitals.
• Provision of psychological support for communities.
• Formation of a Red Cross or Red Crescent National Society.
Partner National Societies
American Red Cross, Australian Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross.


• Provision of relief support to up to 15,000 tsunami-affected people, including family kits and family packs.
• Provision of housing construction material, fishing boats and nets for up to 15,000 people to rebuild their livelihoods.
• Health and hygiene promotion activities in the affected areas through Red Cross volunteers.
• Provision of safe drinking water through the installation of water sanitation facilities.
• Provision of adequate number of latrines and sanitation equipment to affected families.
• Provision of psychosocial support for victims and relief workers.
• Strengthening the capacity of Myanmar Red Cross to prepare for and respond to disasters with pre-positioned stock to benefit 20,000 families.
• Provision of community-based disaster management, water safety and lifeguard training courses.
• Establishment of emergency response volunteer network.
• Support to the Myanmar Red Cross to improve their logistics capacity and to increase their emergency stocks.
Partner National Societies
Red Cross Society of China.


• Pre-positioning of relief supplies for Kedah state and eastern states prone to flooding.
• Organization of training courses on community-based disaster preparedness and response, logistics and psychological support for National Society staff and volunteers.
• Improvement of disaster management systems.


• Provision of health education, access to safe water and adequate sanitation to the affected communities.
• Treatment of communicable diseases and distribution of oral rehydration solutions and medicines.
• upgrading of local water and sanitation systems, and conducting of community-level hygiene promotion.
• Strengthening national disease outbreak response capabilities.
• Development of information systems and national contingency plans.
• Strengthening disaster management and logistics management capacities of the Somali Red Crescent Society.
Partner National Societies
German Red Cross.


• Replenishment of 50,000 non-food family packs and 20,000 family tents.
• Provision of 5,000 sets of basic furniture and 5,000 kitchen sets for communities who lost their belongings.
• Provision of livelihood support for affected fishing communities to benefit 17,000 families (85,000 people) by the provision of 700 new wooden boats, 390 new motorized boats, 1,500 new rope-making machines, 1,000 sewing machines and 500 fishing nets.
• Renovation of 155 cyclone centres.
• Construction of 50 houses.
• Rehabilitation and reconstruction of 3,000 shops.
• Provision of continuous assistance for rehabilitation and recovery needs of disaster-affected populations.
• Support community-based disaster preparedness, basic health care and education, and psychological support programmes.
• Set up community response programme for early warning system.
• Support the Indian Red Cross in strengthening its disaster response and preparedness capacity.
Partner National Societies
Canadian Red Cross, Hong Kong branch of Red Cross Society of China, Spanish Red Cross.


• Provision of basic health-care services to benefit 20,000 people in six provinces through trained and equipped health volunteers.
• Provision of 5,000 family first-aid kits for families living in the temporary and permanent shelters in six provinces.
• Upgrading a health-care centre and a district hospital with the necessary vehicles, medical equipment and medicines to benefit 26,500 people in Lanta Island.
• Installation of water purification systems in 12 schools in six tsunami-affected provinces for approximately 6,000 students to have access to clean water.
• Provision of psychosocial support services for affected families including a special initiative for 3,000 children.
• Replacement or repair of 2,000 fishing boats and livelihood restoration for 2,000 fishermen.
• Disaster reduction training courses with local communities.
• Water safety and water rescue trainings.
• Public awareness training regarding early warning systems.
Partner National Societies
American Red Cross, British Red Cross, French Red Cross, Finnish Red Cross, Red Cross Society of China, Hong Kong branch of the Red Cross Society of China, Swedish Red Cross.


• Provision of various forms of relief and recovery support to benefit 350 families for tsunami and landslide-affected families.
• Re-establishment of the livelihoods of 50 fishermen.
• Support to 30 families with building materials to enable them to rebuild their homes.
• Pre-position disaster preparedness and health stocks in high-risk areas for 1,000 families.
• Development of a contingency plan for floods/ cyclones and a disaster management plan and a disaster relief transport system for the Seychelles Red Cross.
• Establishment of links with coast guard service for harmonized water safety and rescue actions.
• Establishment of community-based risk reduction programmes.
Partner National Societies
British Red Cross, French Red Cross.


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