26 December 2009
The morning of the 26 December 2004 is a moment in time that won’t be soon forgotten. The scale of the destruction caused by the Asian tsunami was both shocking and previously unimaginable to many people.
The massive undersea earthquake measuring 9.15 on the Richter scale triggered a series of tsunamis that hit the coastline of 12 countries in South East Asia, claiming the lives of an estimated 230,000 people and leaving in its wake scars of grief for survivors who lost everything.
“In the immediate aftermath of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, I witnessed firsthand people’s courage and determination to rebuild – truly the best and worst of times,” said Mr Tim Costello, World Vision Australia CEO.
“The worst of times: in Sri Lanka, seeing things that no human should have to suffer. The power of a wave; a wave of death that snatched hundreds of thousands of lives; a wave of grief for those left behind; and a wave of utter destruction of lives, homes and hopes.”
“And the best of times: the experience coming back to Australia and seeing a wave of compassion, a wave of generosity, a wave of solidarity with people in their pain. In my lifetime I have not seen anything like it.”
An unprecedented outpouring of support from a stunned global community saw World Vision mount its largest-ever single relief response simultaneously across five countries: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Myanmar.
The enormous global effort by the organisation to promote recovery following this disaster also provided World Vision with a wealth of understanding on how to better assist communities responding to emergencies. Since then, World Vision, has used these learnings to respond more effectively to over 20 large scale emergencies across Asia, Africa, Central & South America and the Pacific.
Five years on, regions affected by the tsunami have largely returned to normal, with economic circumstances in many cases improved from how they were before the tsunami. World Vision’s response program ensured that homes, education, health facilities and livelihood support were provided to those most in need. New business, social and schooling opportunities empowered women, men and children, building hope and prospects for the future.
World Vision’s tsunami relief programs are now complete, but World Vision continues to partner with communities affected by the tsunami through new development programs.
Across the Asia Pacific region, World Vision is helping to address the vulnerability of many communities at high risk of natural disasters by undertaking significant work in the area of Disaster Risk Reduction and building up community resilience – working with communities, local governments and partners to ensure risks are lowered and response measures strengthened.
As part of the tsunami recover program World Vision established twelve broadcast centres to serve as warning systems for communities in the event of a disaster. World Vision also worked with communities to replant 56,000 mangrove trees to reclaim coastal areas and to help build a natural buffer zone.
“As witnesses to the pain of people devastated by the tsunami and too many other emergencies since, World Vision continues to partner with generous Australians, assisting survivors to keep going, to rebuild and re-establish, and to regain hope for their future,” said Mr Costello.
To find out more about World Vision’s response to the Asia Tsunami, see our Past Appeals update.
The World Vision Asia-Pacific Regional Office has compiled a report that provides an overview of World Vision’s response activities, showing the longer-term effects of the tsunami on Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and Myanmar, and how these countries are faring today.
Download the report: Raising Resilience – The 2004 Asian Tsunami Five Years On.
You can find out more about World Vision’s response to the Asia Tsunami by visiting our Past Appeals update.