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A case study of non-state actors: recovery and reconstruction in Aceh after the 2004 tsunami

Flash appeals immediately after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami raised $1.25bn.

  • $229m was spent on food aid.
  • $174m was spent on health provision.
  • $115m was spent on education provision.

However, $515m was unaccounted for.

More than $187m went to shelter and emergency supplies, a significant amount of which funded long-term shelter: 13,700 homes were built in Aceh using UK emergency appeal money (Fan, 2013). Some agencies used standard kits of parts, aiming to import and distribute kits rapidly and construct houses to replace temporary housing as quickly as possible.

However, failure to understand land rights and ownership issues among many other challenges meant this type of reconstruction was delayed in almost all cases. By contrast, a minority of agencies provided cash and/or resources directly to affected households for them to reconstruct their own homes. While this method was not without issues, this community-based approach proved more effective (da Silva & Batchelor, 2010).

Non-state actors, UN agencies and NGOs also faced challenges during post-disaster recovery and reconstruction in the previously conflict-affected areas of Aceh in Indonesia (Hyndman, 2009). In general, agencies who didn’t have a presence in the region prior to the tsunami really only considered the conflict in terms of the security implications for their response and recovery operations. This meant that post-tsunami emergency shelter and, later, transitional and permanent housing were provided in some locations without a detailed understanding of the socio-cultural context and the underlying drivers and impacts of conflict.

Your task

Undertake some brief research on the reconstruction process following the Asian tsunami – you might choose to access the literature referred to below.

Can you envisage a way in which organisational reconstruction approaches might have identified these issues much earlier, through mechanisms such as systemic monitoring and evaluation?

The Max Lock Centre. (2006). Mind the gap! Post-disaster reconstruction and the transition from humanitarian relief. https://www.preventionweb.net/files/9080_MindtheGapFullreport1.pdf

Oxfam Research Reports. (2014). The Indian ocean tsunami, 10 years on (p. 23). https://oi-files-d8-prod.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/file_attachments/the_indian_ocean_tsunami_10_years_on_-_lessons_from_the_response_and_ongoing_humanitarian_funding_challenges.pdf

Burke, A., & Afnan. (2005). Aceh: Reconstruction in a conflict environment: Views from civil society, donors and NGOs. https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/8C7ED1CB8CCB557F492570E3001A11C2-wb-idn-20dec.pdf


Hyndman, J. (2009). Siting conflict and peace in post-tsunami Sri Lanka and Aceh, Indonesia. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift - Norwegian Journal of Geography, 63(1), 89–96. DOI: 10.1080/00291950802712178. Available from Locate here

da Silva, J., & Batchelor, V. (2010). Indonesia: Understanding agency policy in a national context. In M. Lyons, T. Schilderman, & C. Boano (Eds), Building back better: Delivering people-centred housing reconstruction at scale (pp. 135–162). Practical Action. http://lib.riskreductionafrica.org/bitstream/handle/123456789/264/building%20back%20better%20delivering%20people-centred%20housing%20reconstruction%20at%20scale.pdf?sequence=1

Fan, L. (2013). Disaster as opportunity? Building back better in Aceh, Myanmar and Haiti. Humanitarian Policy Group. https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/8693.pdf

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Disaster Interventions and the Need for Evaluation, Accountability and Learning

Coventry University