India: Disaster recovery - A focus on good practices




On the morning of December 26th 2004, the tsunami struck the coast of India. In India, as in all affected countries, many aspects of the disaster were unique. The destruction was on an immense scale, causing suffering to a degree previously unknown by the coastal communities in the area. In addition, the response, both domestically and internationally, was unsurpassed in terms of the huge numbers of organisations and funds that poured into the affected areas.

In early February 2005, upon a request from the Government of India (GoI), a Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) was undertaken including the Government, the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations and the World Bank to assess the damage incurred as well as the needs expressed by the relevant state authorities, and Union Territories administration (1). Based on the findings of the JAM, a UN Tsunami Recovery Framework (2) was drawn up. At the national level, a Tsunami Steering Committee was established to oversee the immediate relief efforts, mobilise resources to fund the Recovery Framework, and support the UN team for Tsunami Recovery Support (UNTRS), based in Chennai.


This handbook captures a number of the good practices that emerged during the UN tsunami response in South India. The document represents part of the efforts to build and develop the UN's institutional memory in humanitarian interventions, with the ultimate aim of ensuring organisational learning and securing change. The primary target group is therefore individuals within the UN humanitarian system. The authors sincerely hope that the good practices will serve as a useful contribution to the wider institutional context of relief, recovery and development.


The methodology followed in this documentation of good practice for the UNTRS sought guidance and borrowed advice from a number of sources, from both within and outside the UN system (3). Based on an initial literature search, three steps were implemented to identify and share good practices:
1.Look for evidence of success
2. Identify and validate good practices
3. Document good practices
Additional details and sources of further information
regarding the methodology used are found in Annex
1, Good Practice - the Rationale.

Document Overview

This handbook purposely focuses on the practicalities of transferring the good practices to other settings. Therefore, the focus of the document is on Section II - Good Practices at the Sector Level. Each subsection by sector answers three questions:
1. What did we set out to do?
2. What actually happened?
3. What went well, and why?

Section III - Overall Recommendations for Good Practice at the Coordination Level briefly outlines a number of approaches for the coordination of future humanitarian responses under three main themes: Working as One UN, Results Based Management, and Early Recovery.