WASHINGTON, Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - Nearly five years after the Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 230,000 people and destroyed entire communities, hundreds of thousands of houses have been rebuilt, life has returned to normal and communities are more prepared for future disasters.
The more than 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which hit 12 countries from Southeast Asia to East Africa in December 2004, caused more than $8 billion in damages and affected nearly 5 million people.
Even as it responded to the emergency, the American Red Cross was already making plans to meet long-term needs, such as rebuilding houses, providing water and sanitation systems, and reigniting the local economy by getting people back to work.
"When I saw the devastation and the emotional trauma people were dealing with, I knew it would take a long time to get people back on their feet and for communities to recover," says Gerald Anderson, senior director of the Tsunami Recovery Program for the American Red Cross.
After consulting with survivors and local leaders about what was needed to help communities rebuild and recover, the American Red Cross decided to focus on six key program areas - water and sanitation, psychosocial support, health, shelter, livelihoods and disaster preparedness.
Over the past five years, the American Red Cross and its partners were able to assist 4 million people through more than 80 relief and recovery projects. These efforts included:
- Building or repairing more than 16,200 temporary and permanent houses
- Providing nearly 200,000 people with improved access to clean water
- Giving loans, livelihood resources or job training to more than 91,000 people
- Protecting 111 million people through disease prevention activities, such as vaccinating children against measles
- Helping more than 780,000 people overcome the emotional trauma caused by the tsunami
"Not only have communities been rebuilt, they have been built with a sustainable future in mind," Anderson said. "From the onset we designed our programs to make communities stronger, safer and better prepared by considering the environmental impact of our work and giving people the skills and training to know how to respond to future emergencies."
Involving people at the community-level has been at the heart of American Red Cross recovery efforts in tsunami-affected countries. Men, women and children in more than 580 communities and schools have been trained to know what to do if another disaster occurs. Local volunteer disaster teams have mapped the hazards their communities face, have been trained in emergency first aid and have conducted mock disaster response drills.
The American Red Cross received $581 million to help the affected communities rebuild and recover. As of November 30, $517 million of these funds have been spent, with the remainder already programmed to finish existing recovery projects by the end of 2010.
Even as the American Red Cross finishes its tsunami recovery work, the work of the local Red Cross continues. American Red Cross partner national societies, such as the Indonesian Red Cross, will continue to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to future emergencies.
Experts are available for interview in Washington, DC, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Maldives. Video, photos and additional information are available upon request. Contact Eric Porterfield for more information: email@example.com or 202-701-3309.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization - not a government agency - and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.
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