The tragic events of December 26, 2004 caused destruction on an unprecedented scale. Nearly 230,000 people were killed - the majority of them women and children. Communities were devastated, livelihoods destroyed, homes, schools and heath facilities washed away. Yet the sheer scale of the Tsunami's destruction - as well as the massive mobilization of resources received from international relief - provided many opportunities to restore basic services and build back better than before.
The international community pledged over USD 14 billion for the relief and recovery of tsunami-affected countries, and UNICEF funds received for the Tsunami stand at USD 694.7 million, of which three quarters was raised from UNICEF's National Committees.
As the report indicates, the opportunities to build back better presented themselves not only in the sphere of basic services - such as health, education and water and sanitation - but also in improving the security of communities vulnerable to natural disaster or violent conflict, and in providing greater security to vulnerable children.
In Indonesia, for example, "the unprecedented international response to the Tsunami created a unique opportunity to bolster the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement," the report states, citing the peace agreement that was signed between the two parties in August 2005.
Beyond the effort to address immediate needs following the Tsunami, UNICEF's reconstruction efforts focused on both Tsunami- and conflict-affected areas, a strategic decision designed to consolidate the peace reached in the aftermath of the Tsunami.
And in Thailand, recovery efforts have been instrumental in building national systems to strengthen child protection. A model Child Protection Monitoring System was initially established in 2007 to identify and monitor the situation of children orphaned by the Tsunami, as well as other at-risk children. The model was expanded from 27 sub-districts in 2007 to 36 sub-districts in 2008, and is now being considered for national replication.
The report also highlights some of the important lessons learned from the Tsunami relief and recovery operations - not the least of which is ensuring that governments, international agencies and NGOs partners coordinate their relief activities, complementing each other rather than overlapping their efforts. Another is ensuring that all stakeholders are better prepared to deal with emergencies as they occur.
In Myanmar, for example, lessons UNICEF learned from the Tsunami response have positively influenced preparedness and response to other emergency situations, the report indicates. Following cyclone Mala and other emergencies in 2006, UNICEF was able to quickly mobilise and deliver emergency relief goods, including family kits, insecticide treated bednets, and essential drugs for local health centres, in the affected areas. Following cyclone Nargis in 2008, UNICEF distributed child survival kits to help treat up to 600,000 episodes of diarrhoea, 300,000 cases of pneumonia and 60,000 cases of post-partum haemorrhage prevention, and 6,200 cases of neonatal sepsis and severe pneumonia. UNICEF also provided support for therapeutic feeding programmes to respond to identified pockets of severe acute malnutrition.
Recovery programmes in some countries have now drawn to a close, with ongoing recovery work handed over to the national authorities or integrated into existing programmes carried out by the UNICEF country offices. Due to the scale of the recovery required in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, UNICEF will continue to support reconstruction activities through the end of 2010.
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UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Media, New
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