In the years and months that have gone by since the devastating Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami of December 2004, the affected communities - from Banda Aceh to Batticaloa, Puntland to Phang Nga, Noonu to Nagapattinam - have seen both tragedy and triumph.
Tragedy, because the destructive power of the tsunami left countless communities without homes or livelihoods, eradicated key infrastructure in countries around the region, and irrevocably damaged large swaths of coastal area. In all, more than 228,000 people - in 14 countries - perished as a result of the disaster.
Triumph, because while the disaster wreaked havoc and devastation on the coastlines along the Indian Ocean rim, it also triggered an overwhelming national and international response, delivering emergency relief and recovery assistance through multiple partners, funds and programmes. Milestone successes have been collectively achieved in supporting affected communities to restore their lives and livelihoods, and to reconstruct their houses and settlements, all with care to empower future generations to thrive. Individual citizens, national governments and international financial institutions around the globe contributed funds to the recovery, resulting in an estimated US$13.5 billion in aid.
With an operation of such unprecedented scope, a number of useful lessons have been learned across the recovery spectrum about what worked and what did not. To take stock of these collective and countryspecific findings, this report asks if those involved in this massive undertaking were able to achieve takes its cue from former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's words - "it's not enough to pick up the pieces. We must draw on every lesson we can to avoid such catastrophes in the future" - and from the call of the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, President Bill Clinton, to "build back better."