Date: 26 Dec 2005
This is an initial report from the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition (TEC). The TEC is a collaborative effort by aid agencies (donor governments’ aid departments, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement) to improve humanitarian systems by learning from the response to the earthquake and tsunamis of 26 December 2004. Another aim of the TEC is to provide some accountability for the humanitarian system to both the giving and receiving publics.
The TEC carried out five joint thematic evaluations; on the donor response, co-ordination, needs assessment, the impact on local and national capacities, and the linkage of relief with rehabilitation and long-term development.
The added value that the TEC joint evaluations bring is the ability to do sectoral assessments which would be difficult for individual actors to do. It was also hoped that the joint TEC evaluations would reduce the need for individual agency evaluations.
It was originally planned that this report would present the preliminary findings of the TEC thematic evaluations; however the thematic reports have fallen behind their planned timetables. The preliminary findings presented here are based on a variety of sources, including some of the draft TEC evaluation reports, TEC workshops in London and Brussels, and comments by evaluation team leaders, evaluation managers, and members of the TEC’s Core Management Group.
The main reports on the work of the TEC will be the five thematic evaluations and the TEC synthesis report, due to be published in May 2006. The TEC synthesis report will draw together all the themes as a coherent whole and make recommendations for the future. Given that this report draws on sources other than the incomplete TEC thematic reports, it may present a different range of issues from the synthesis report.
While initial needs were broadly met, in part by local actors, there is room for improvement in the way that agencies are meeting ongoing needs. Key areas for improvement in the current operation of agency responses tsunami response are:
- their engagement with local actors;
- transparency, communication with, and accountability to the affected populations;
- transparency towards their donors.
Despite a number of unique factors, the well-funded tsunami response provides a significant opportunity for the aid community to learn how to improve its performance in future responses. The TEC synthesis report will examine these issues in far more detail and will present detailed recommendations for correcting the weaknesses highlighted by the five TEC thematic studies. The thematic reports will also provide far more detail on the areas in need of improvement, and will identify examples of best practice in the tsunami response that agencies can adopt in future operations.
This report was drafted by John Cosgrave, the Evaluation Advisor and Co-ordinator of the TEC.
The impact of the earthquake and tsunamis
The fourth largest earthquake of recent times struck about 100km off the west coast of Sumatra, an hour and a half after dawn on 26 December 2004. A 1,200km section of the earth’s crust shifted beneath the Indian Ocean and the earthquake released stored energy equivalent to more than 23,000 Hiroshima bombs. This raised the seafloor several metres and sent a train of giant waves (tsunamis) rushing east and west to wreak havoc on the coasts of more than a dozen countries spread over two continents.
Tsunami waves started to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands within ten minutes of the earthquake, and Banda Aceh was struck within another ten minutes or so. Within two hours of the earthquake, both Thailand and Sri Lanka had been hit. The east coast of India was hit shortly afterwards.
Tsunamis rolled over the Maldives three hours after the earthquake and lashed the Somali coast more than seven hours after. The earthquake and tsunami killed people in fourteen countries across two continents, with the last two fatalities being swept out to sea in South Africa, more than twelve hours after the earthquake.
The tsunamis were measured on tide gauges around the world, but no further fatalities or major damage were reported outside of the Indian Ocean.