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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Overview: Tsunami two year update

‘Much Done, More to Do’: Indian Ocean tsunami recovery, two years on

By Dan Thomas

© UNICEF/HQ06-1918/Pietrasik
For the first time since the tsunami, sisters Sivaranjini (left), 13, and Bhanpriya, 10, visit the beach, close to where their mother was killed. Their former home was in the village of Pudupettai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

NEW YORK, USA, 20 December 2006 – Two years after the Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 200,000 people and destroyed homes, schools and communities across a vast area, UNICEF is still working to rebuild children’s lives and provide a brighter future.

In its new report – ‘Much Done, More to Do’, a 24-month update on efforts to help tsunami-affected communities rebuild – UNICEF details the work that started after the tsunami struck on 26 December 2004 and will continue for many years to come. The update tracks progress in the countries worst-affected by the disaster: India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

“Since the beginning of the tsunami response, UNICEF has been able to reach an estimated 4.8 million children and women in eight countries,” the reports says. “Nearly two years on, much has been accomplished but much remains to be done.”

Among the highlights of achievements to date in the affected areas:

  • UNICEF has supported the reconstruction and renovation of over 50 health facilities and delivered medical equipment to nearly 6,100 hospitals and clinics
  • Over 1 million people have access to safe water sources built with UNICEF support, including a quarter of a million schoolchildren benefiting from new water and sanitation facilities
  • Nearly 1 million children and women have received insecticide-treated mosquito nets to protect against malaria.
© UNICEF/HQ06-1796/Navarak
A boy stands on the ruins of a resort destroyed by the tsunami at Bang Niang Beach in Phang-Nga Province, Thailand. The photo was taken by Aekkapong Navarak, an 11-year-old boy from the indigenous Moken community.

New and rebuilt schools

Another key measure of progress is the rebuilding of schools damaged or destroyed by the tsunami.

A few weeks ago, 10-year-old Mouri Yuniar and her school friends moved into a brand new classroom at Kampong Baro Primary School in Indonesia’s Aceh Province. Mouri’s new school is one of 36 new permanent schools in the tsunami-affected region already finished, with UNICEF’s support.

“The old school was always flooded. It was not comfortable,” said Mouri. “It wasn’t good for studying. The new school is comfortable, and it’s not noisy.”

Mouri and her friends are among tens of thousands of children across the region now studying at newly constructed permanent schools, 145 semi-permanent schools and some 900 repaired schools. And to help families keep children in school, UNICEF has provided more than 1 million students with education supplies for the new school year.

“Reconstruction of schools is one of the most important things,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Indonesia, Gianfranco Rotigliani. “We don’t have children now going to school in tents anymore.” Mr. Rotigliani added that the new and repaired schools have been ‘built back better’ with hygienic facilities, playgrounds and other child-friendly features.

© UNICEF/ HQ06-1615/Noorani
Children attend class in a temporary classroom at Kirinda Muslim High School in Southern Province, Sri Lanka. Their new, child-friendly school is being renovated as part of the international tsunami recovery effort.

Strengthened partnerships

UNICEF and its partners also continue to follow up on the cases of nearly 5,000 children who were orphaned by the tsunami – supporting the development of improved guidelines for the care of orphans and other vulnerable children, including those affected by HIV and AIDS. Nearly 400,000 children who experienced trauma have benefited from UNICEF-assisted psycho-social activities.

UNICEF’s programmes for these and other children in the tsunami-affected countries have provided the opportunity to expand its work with communities and local partners.

“With the help of development partners, governments are strengthening systems and policies vital for children while raising standards,” notes the 24-month progress report. “Thanks to these efforts, most children not only have access to the basic social services that were available before the tsunami, but also to some critically needed services that had been lacking or were unavailable to everyone.”

But in a cautionary note, the report adds: “Building systems in the post-tsunami environment, however, is a long-term process and will take time.”




December 2006:
Two years after the Indian Ocean tsunami struck, UNICEF correspondent Dan Thomas reports on efforts to build back better – one child at time.
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from The Newsmarket

December 2006:
UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia Cecilia Lotse talks about the region’s post-tsunami recovery and the importance of having committed partners.
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December 2006:
UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific Anupama Rao Singh discusses progress made in the region’s recovery process.
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