2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami


The morning of December 26, 2004 saw the worst disaster in Indonesia’s history. A magnitude (M) 9.1 submarine earthquake occurred along the Indian Ocean subduction zone triggering a massive tsunami that destroyed 800 km of the coastal areas of Aceh Province with inundation observed as far as 6 km inland. Post disaster damage and loss assessment revealed staggering numbers on the calamity that include over 220,000 human fatalities and the destruction of 139,000 houses, 73,869 hectares of agricultural lands, 2,618 kilometers of roads, 3,415 schools, 104,500 small-medium enterprises, 13,828 fishing boats, 119 bridges, 669 government buildings, 517 health facilities, 1,089 worship places, 22 seaports, and 8 airports and airstrips (BRR-Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias, 2009). Added to these statistics, more than half a million tsunami survivors were internally displaced and hundreds of thousands more lost their livelihoods.

Almost within hours, news on the tsunami devastation of Aceh spread quickly around the world eventually sparking an unprecedented massive global community emergency response and relief effort. Given the extremely urgent situation on the grounds, the Government of Indonesia agreed to allow international military personnel coming from Asian and European countries, the United States, and Australia, among others, to participate in the disaster response operations that also included more than 600 local, national, and international non-governmental, community-based, civil society, multi-lateral, and UN organizations. Some of these organizations continued to be involved in the post-tsunami reconstruction and recovery phase. The reconstruction costs were estimated to be US $4.9 billion while committed funds from various sources including the international community donors and the Government of Indonesia amounted to US$ 6.7 billion (BRR, 2009).

Before embarking on a painstaking reconstruction effort, the Government of Indonesia created a “Master Plan for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias, North Sumatra”. Parallel to this effort, the government also established the Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias (BRR), an ad-hoc agency, first of its kind, mandated to implement and coordinate government-funded projects and coordinate donor- and NGO- funded projects from April 2005 to April 2009. The “Build Back Better” philosophy was adopted in the reconstruction effort. This guiding principle seeks to ensure that every reconstruction effort shall integrate the concept of Disaster Risk Reduction that would help reduce future disaster risk and build resilience. By the end of the project period, BRR had implemented and coordinated a total of roughly 12,000 projects.

Post-tsunami recovery and reconstruction efforts generally resulted in significant achievements in terms of housing, infrastructure, environment, agriculture, livelihood, health, local economy, education, and disaster management sectors. The enactment of Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 24/ 2007 concerning Disaster Management and the subsequent transformation of disaster management entities marked a major shift in disaster management paradigm in Indonesia which should help prepare Indonesia in responding more effectively to future disaster events.

People standing in line following the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia.
On December 26 2004, waves triggered by a massive earthquake slammed into the coastlines of countries ringing the Indian Ocean. The death toll was enormous.
Conversation Media Group, the
Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency has announced that there will be classes on disaster mitigation at 250,000 schools located in disaster-prone areas. The classes will either be integrated into the curriculum or through extracurricular activities and, unlike previous efforts, anyone can administer them, not just ministry staff.
Jakarta Post, the
This paper is aimed at elaborating the changes of policies and regulations in Aceh captured and monitored during 12-year of the tsunami recovery process.
IOP Science
14 years after the Indian Ocean Tsunami, experts say India would be better able to handle a similar disaster today. Since the catastrophe, India has deployed the Indian Tsunami Early Warning System and created the Disaster Management Act, 2005, which led to the formation of key disaster agencies. But implementation of disasters policies remains a concern.
Down To Earth
This research is aimed at monitoring the recovery of coastal land use during 10 years of the recovery process and at investigating the influence of the recovery process on the community livelihood.
In 2004, a tsunami devastated much of the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh. Research found that reconstruction in the coastal zone has unintentionally exacerbated this segregation: now many lower-income newcomers rent rebuilt houses that higher-income tsunami survivors do not wish to occupy.
ETH Zurich
This article addresses the sustainability implications of post-disaster measures in the context of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami by presenting an analysis of the current situations and changes in some of the affected regions. Sustainability implications of measures are captured by investigating the persistence of the social and economic living conditions in relation to post-disaster measures, and the alignment of the measures with basic environmental aspects.
International Journal of Disaster Risk Science
This study analyses the laws related to disaster risks in Indonesia using the pilot version of the ‘Checklist on Law and Disaster Risk Reduction’, which was developed through a global consultation process.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
This brief documents some of the positive as well as the negative experiences in Sri Lanka recovery process during the then years following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
University of Huddersfield
The Indian Ocean Tsunami fundamentally changed how we deal with natural disasters, making a profound impact on policies and budgets as well as operational and technical work, writes Dr Shamshad Akhtar with Ministers from India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand, in an op-ed in Eurasia Review...
Eurasia Review