Emergency and humanitarian action

2004 tsunami – 10 years of recovery in photos

Triggered by severe earthquakes off the northwest tip of Indonesia, early on Sunday 26 December 2004, a tsunami brought catastrophe to South-East Asia.

Clock in the rubble

With nearly 200 000 deaths and 11 billion USD in total damage, the tsunami disaster brought into sharp focus the need for disaster preparedness in the Region.

Destroyed city

The disaster highlighted gaps and areas that needed to be strengthened in the countries of the Region. 10 years later, much progress has been made.

Community awareness

Community awareness

Community awareness is essential for effective response to any disaster. In Aceh, Indonesia, WHO has been involved in a school health programme, where school children are trained to screen other children and maintain good health.

Strong routine health systems

Strong routine health systems

It has been seen that the stronger and more effective the routine health system, the more effective the system tends to be in a disaster situation. Therefore, strengthening routine health systems is crucial to respond well to disasters.

Strength and political commitment

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh briefing specialist volunteers
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia (who was Deputy Regional Director at the time) briefs specialist volunteers from private multinational companies in the Operations Room.

It was recognized that disaster reduction was integral to the development of a nation, a key element of national strategies in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Member countries expressed their commitment to this issue through a resolution in the 58th World Health Assembly. The resolution, WHA 58.1, emphasized the need to formulate disaster management plans, and improve access to clean water and sanitation.

Children playing

10 years later, WHO backed programs such as the Community Mental Health Programme and Care About Mental Health Forum are still established and growing within the community ensuring better preparedness in Indonesia and the South-East Asia Region.

Our best tribute to those who died during the 2004 tsunami is to take the lessons from the tragedy to heart and strive to ensure that we are better prepared for future disasters.