Working Elephant

Tsunami en el sur de Asia

Sustainable Reconstruction & Education
Nathan P. Beaver 
Part of Waves of Devastation, a class website on the Indian Ocean Tsunami & Global Environmental Injustice, produced by students of Geography 378 (International Environmental Problems & Policy) at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, USA, Spring 2005.


    In the wake of the 2004 tsunami comes the reconstruction. The four major countries impacted (India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand) have plans to implement sustainable reconstruction of affected communities.The plans use a conservation-minded approach to develop a healthy environment that is not based on overuse of natural resources, such as illegal logging and mining. Most of the countries understand that there needs to be protection of biodiversity and assurance that the ecosystem needs to be protected with conservation measures on a continual basis.


    The most impacted areas of India were Mayabandar, Car Nicobar, Diglipur, Ragnat and the Nancowrie group of islands, according to the Geologic Survey of India. The Telegraph (of Calcutta) reports that the Geologic Survey of India is mapping out the impacted areas from the tsunami and working to assess the land pattern. The mapping will show areas that are in greater need of aid, and help regulate construction efforts. Of the four major areas affected in India, recovery costs could range up to U.S.$1.2 billion, according to the damage needs and assessment reports released by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and United Nations. The United Nations Development Program reports that India's government is preparing a comprehensive program for rehabilitation and recovery and will receive assistance in sustainable practices incorporating disaster management, risk reduction and infrastructure.

    The state governments of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, India, have implemented a emergency tsunami reconstruction project called the Environmental and Social Management Framework. The project (according to Tamil Nadu's government site) is underway with support from the government of India. Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry will revive livelihoods and promote recovery to all affected areas.The Environmental and Social Management Framework will follow guidelines and procedures (with financial support from the World Bank), and will be implemented over a three-year period. The project is designed to incorporate environmental and social management practices and education of citizens.

    The goals set by the program are as follows:

    • Enhance positive and sustainable environmental and social outcomes associated with project implementation.
    • Integration of environmental and social aspects associated with the numerous sub-projects into the decision making process.
    • Support displaced persons in their efforts to restore their livelihoods and living standards and compensate any loss of livelihood or assets.
    • Support positive environmental and social outcomes.
    • Minimize environmental degradation as a result of either individual sub-projects or their cumulative effects.
    • Protect human health.
    • Minimize impacts on cultural property.

The complete project scope: India ESMF for WB Tsunami Reconstruction Project.

India Reconstruction Efforts

Source: Jaya Announces Rs.9 Core Relief

Sri Lanka

Reconstruction cost estimates for Sri Lanka are reported to be U.S. $1.5 billion, according to the Asian Development Bank, Japan Bank and the World Bank. After waves penetrated up to 500 meters inland, many of the poor coastal communities were wiped out. The tsunami impacted infrastructure and the environment, with widespread socioeconomic effects. Recoverlanka is a post-tsunami rehabilitation, relief, reconstruction resource for recovery efforts. One unique resource on this website are maps of the resettlement efforts. Villages will be relocated beyond the extent of the water that flooded the land. This type of action is taken as precaution against any future flood or tsunami. The maps are of five districts along the coast of Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan government initiated the Task Force for Rebuilding the Nation (TAFRAN) to be part of a group in charge of reconstruction efforts. TAFRAN will work with government ministries, non-governmental organizations, donors and civil socities to achieve reconstruction goals. TAFRAN is the primary moderator of these groups, and is involved with all aspects of reconstruction. Communication, transportation, health, education, utilities, water supplies and fisheries are all important tasks that TAFRAN has incorporated in its plan. Unfortunately there are not any indications of sustainble reconstruction efforts that are specific to resource use in the process. However, there are calls for sustainable reconstruction of fisheries in the entire area effected by the tsunami. Reconstruction efforts are also hampered by political violence. Lankaweb reports that political killings are taking place at a time when focus needs to be on reconstruction. Without cooperation from citizens and the government, recovery and reconstruction of a civil society will be difficult to achieve.


Damage in Indonesia stemmed from both the 9.0 earthquake and the resulting tsunami. Indonesia’s reconstruction efforts could reach into the U.S. $5 billion range over 5 years, according to World Bank estimates. The World Bank's statistics on damage to the infrastructure estimate that 62 percent of the damages occurred to transportation, 25 percent to flood control and irrigation and the remaining 13 percent of infrastructure loss and damage impacted energy, water and sanitation and communication. In April 2005, Indonesian officials adopted recommendations for environmentally sustainable reconstruction from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) focusing on areas in and around Aceh province in northern Sumatra. The plan called “Green Reconstruction” will be the guideline for reconstruction efforts. The plan works with public and private sector groups, aid agencies, relief organizations and local stakeholders, (according to WWF’s web site).

Indonesia’s government claims to recognize the importance of rebuilding in an efficient manner, but also the need for environmental responsibility and protecting biodiversity. With a majority of the country's natural resources coming from Sumatra, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Governor Abubakar both claim to understand the connection between reconstruction and preserving biodiversity. Indonesia also plans to import timber to curb the impacts on local forest, with hopes that illegal logging will be minimized in the forests of Sumatra. WWF reports that at least 1.1 million meters of saw timber will be needed for reconstruction efforts, yet only a small portion of that can be met through legal logging practices.

Indonesia Destruction

Source: Environment News Source

WWF’s Green Reconstruction Guidelines contain four principles to achieve sustainable development:

  • Mainstreaming environment: All reconstruction efforts will incorporate environmental concerns.
  • Building strong legitimate local institutions: By building strong local institutions recovery of socioeconomic impacts and cultural livelihood will be strengthened and preserved.
  • Following a spatial plan: Reconstruction efforts have minimal negative environmental impact and incorporates positive decision-making during reconstruction.
  • Build good governance: All aspects of planning implementation and evaluation should involve the local community.

For more on WWF’s Green Reconstruction Guidelines for Aceh

While Indonesia’s government in Aceh province has adopted WWF’s plan, the World Bank (the main contributor of funds for reconstruction efforts) has not recognized the principles of “Green Reconstruction” in Aceh. World Bank’s main focus is getting the job done. Even though there is more of an administrative role for the World Bank it is important that it recognizes the efforts and benefits of “Green Reconstruction” and not support the exploitation of resources through unsustainable and illegal practices.


The most impacted part of Thailand's economy was the tourism industry . Estimates of losses are in the U.S. $1 billion range. The World Wildlife Fund of Thailand is in the process of creating a program that works on improving life in the wake of the tsunami. Rehabilitation and restoration of Thailand's infrastructure will be a central focus. Environmental education and improvement of coastal habitats are important to ensure a strong socioeconomic future. Environmental education will focus on teaching citizens about the physical environment that they live in. WWF's Marine Program.

Thailand Tsunami Destruction

Source: India News Photo's


Reconstruction will be a lengthy and costly process. Countries through out the world have lent a helping hand. It is important that foreign governments recognize the importance of sustainable reconstruction. Rushing into development can rapidly exhaust natural resources. Non-profit organizations such as Architecture for Humanity can work with communities in a time of crisis. Architects from around the globe collaborate and incorporate sustainable practices to improve the quality of life after a disaster situation. The organization also promotes educational and humanitarian advocacy programs by working with governments. With the help of governments and non-profit groups, tsunami victims will be able to take charge and function as an educated community for the future.


For more information on this topic:

Architecture for Humanity:

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

Corporate Partnership with Emergencies:

India ESMF for WB Tsunami Reconstruction Project:

The Telegraph - Calcutta: Bengal:

Sumatra Andaman Earthquake: Revival:

TAFREN-Task Force for Rebuilding the Nation:

LankaWeb News:

Sri Lanka Damage and Needs Assessment

WWF Newsroom:

Environment News Service (ENS):

WWF's Marine Programme