At 7:59 a.m. local time on December 26, 2004, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the waters off the Sri Lankan coast, triggering a massive tsunami that would eventually reach the shores of eight countries.
Soon, over 230,000 people were killed and an equal number were injured. Some 5 million more were in need of some form of emergency relief—medical attention, shelter, clothes, food—just to make it through the days ahead.
It was the second largest earthquake recorded in history and the worst natural disaster the United Nations and the global community had faced in its 60 years of operations. More than a third of the lives lost were children. Millions lost their way of life: a fisherman without a livelihood, a child without a family, a town without a hospital or school.
Over the past 12 months, the international community has come together to make significant progress on some of the most pressing issues concerning the affected areas. This has meant that children are able to go back to their schools, epidemics have been prevented, survivors are employed, there is ongoing food assistance to all affected families, and there is a common system of financial tracking.
The one-year anniversary of the tsunami provides an opportunity to reflect on accomplishments in the relief and recovery process to date, and to continue to focus on the challenging days which lie ahead. This report provides an overview of what has happened one year after the tsunami—stories of progress, partnership, and hope—and the lessons learned that will help manage the next disaster.
“We must set the stage for the efforts in the longer term, as we move from saving lives to recovery and reconstruction.” – Kofi Annan, UN Secretary–General
The challenges that lie ahead in the tsunami-affected countries are formidable. The unprecedented disaster was met by an equal outpouring of generosity – the most generous in history. In total, governments donated $6 billion, relief agencies and the international financial institutions donated $2.3 billion and private and corporate donations accounted for over $5.1 billion.
- The United Nations assumed the leading role in coordinating this historic international relief effort. The effort has involved a broad coalition of UN agencies, governments, aid agencies, NGOs, businesses, and local communities.
- The recovery process is on track. Over 2 million survivors have been fed, clothed, sheltered and protected from outbreaks of disease. Children across the region are back in school, immunized and, in most cases, reunited with their families.
- The approach is to “build back better” – going beyond restoring what existed and seizing the opportunity to promote more sustainable housing, education, health care and economic opportunities.
- It will take time to do it right. The United Nations is committed to executing the detailed work on the ground with the many partners, governments, contractors as well as local communities engaged for as long as it takes, to ensure promises made to the victims do not become promises forgotten.
- The UN is working with partners to rebuild over 500 new permanent and semi-permanent schools and restore the economic and social structures of the survivors.
Full report (pdf* format - 621 KB)