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Indonesia/Sri Lanka: Atlas for tsunami-affected areas in southern Asia

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An atlas on areas affected by the 26 December 2004 tsunami in southern Asia, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has proven to be very useful to relief teams working in the devastated zones.

The Tsunami Atlas uses images collected from FAO databases and major spatial data sources on the Web-satellite images, topographic and thematic maps and geo-statistics. It shows the tsunami-affected areas before and after the disaster struck, helping experts in evaluating the damage and estimating reconstruction and rehabilitation needs, especially in the agricultural lands, the mangroves areas, as well in the coastal infrastructure that is used by farmers and fishermen.

The Atlas for Indonesia and Sri Lanka, which were hit hard by the tsunami, is well advanced. FAO is also working intensively on mapping the other affected countries. Some of the satellite images showing the areas hit have been interpreted by experts with the help of Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis. They also show land features and details, in some cases up to one metre of resolution. Topographic maps, which provide information on terrain, roads and villages, are available in 1:250000- and 1:50000-scale versions. In addition, the Atlas displays maps and statistics providing information on the local climate, the cropping calendars, levels of malnutrition and the latest figures provided by aid workers on human losses and material damage. The maps and images can also be used to incorporate field information collected by relief organizations, thanks to the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.

FAO has so far prepared a paper atlas and a CD-ROM version containing hundreds of tsunami-related images and maps for Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Many of the images can be viewed and understood by non-cartographic experts and are accessible in most common image computer format. The Atlas will be distributed widely in hard copy throughout the affected countries, including national ministries, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations. The data is also available through the Internet.

The Atlas will eventually extend to the other affected countries, and the maps and satellite images will be regularly updated. It is expected to become a key reference cartographic document for those working at the planning and field levels in the tsunami-affected areas.

For more information, visit http://www.fao.org/tsunami