Title: Building Resilience to Tsunami Disaster in Asian Coastal Regions
Event type: Side Event
Date: 2011-08-22
Time: 12:15 - 13:15
Convenor: Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) and IWMI-TATA Water Policy Program
Room: K23

Event Description
The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami caused massive destruction throughout the coastal region in Asia. Nevertheless, early reports showed that some damaged soils and groundwater had recovered to their pre-tsunami states within two years. Other regions, however, especially those inaccessible to relief supplies, are still struggling. Some residents suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder syndromes or the challenges of new livelihoods.

In this event, we reconsider the experiences and lessons learnt from the 2004 tsunami disaster, focusing on the long-term implication for the impact and recovery of the people’s livelihoods. In order to provide policy implications for the future, we discuss empirical evidences of tsunami affected regions in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Finally we also discuss the socio-ecological implications of the recent calamities of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami being experienced in coastal Japan. The level of destructions and displacements was one of the most devastating experiences after the WWII. Our challenge is to reconsider and learn from the past disaster experiences and practices and to build disaster-resilient society for the future.


Event Summary and Conclusions

  1. It is important to consider mid-term recovery of livelihood after tsunami. For livelihood to recover, wage income and employment opportunities played an important role.
  2. The agricultural environment, i.e., salinized land, has recovered from the tsunami after one to one and half years.
  3. In addition to short term relief measures, investment in long term measures (infrastructure) will help in building resilience in the coastal zone. Strengthening the existing (local) institutions within the affected regions and supporting new institutions to address the tsunami related issues within and outside the affected regions is important.
  4. Both risk assessment due to disasters and water services are important to evaluate a coastal security and sustainable environments.
  5. It is impossible to find the solution against the great earthquake only by the engineering method. We need to define, what the engineering enable and what unable. Formation of traditional villages in response to the past tsunami gives us many ideas.

Conclusion: Towards disaster-resilient society

  • Disaster-resilience requires an investigation to general resilience of the society in longer perspective.
  • We need to know historical and cultural contexts and practices of livelihoods in the local communities and consider future options available with the communities concerned.
  • Preventing tsunami disaster requires huge investment, which is not economically and socially feasible. Living with risk and uncertainty to some extent is more realistic approach. More investment on software such as education is of primary important.
  • Adaptation as a whole, including scale and element, with clear target for tolerance
  • The society and households need to have a capacity to rebuild livelihood as quickly as possible. Appropriate intervention for building institution is required for strengthening preparedness, capacity to respond and to transform the communities. Strengthening the social capital will be important.

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IWMI-TATA Water Policy Research Program
RIHN Resilience Project
RIHN Futurability Initiatives
RIHN Mega City Project
Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo
RIHN Subsurface Project