The verdict is out. One year after the tsunami, experts assess the extent of damage as well as the recovery efforts. Reports are coming in from US governmental agencies on relief efforts, international media and press, NGOs as well as regional relief organizations.
East Asia is still coping with the damage and destruction wrought by the tsunami. The tsunami has transformed the definition of security for the region. Security is increasingly defined not only solely pertaining to military or national security but also a human-centered security in which disaster management is one feature. The state is increasingly ineffective in dealing with this area of security which has seen disasters on the scale of tsunami crossing national boundaries and creating massive damage which individual states have difficulties in coping.
Experts and activists say that not enough have been done to revive communitarian normalcy in the areas, and agricultural land still lay in ruins. The tsunamis uprooted mangrove flora and penetrated deep into shrimp farms and farmlands. The cadmium found in seawater brought in by the tsunami had polluted the agricultural lands of Aceh. Perhaps, even more seriously, the low-lying areas in many parts of Aceh have completely disappeared underneath the coastline. Entire villages have also been submerged. Soil pollution and other well-hidden source of pollution like burst sewage and chemical piping contribute to the accumulation of dangerous materials in the affected areas. In Banda Aceh alone, there is enough garbage to fill up 30 football fields and then pile them three storeys high.
In contrast, reconstruction efforts are not moving fast enough in Aceh. Reconstruction efforts launched with great publicity and fanfare have fallen into bureaucratic wrangling, red-tape, top-down command issues and inaction. Indonesia is seriously falling behind in its commitment to the recovery and reconstruction stage for Aceh. In fact it was revealed that most of the aid for Indonesia, particularly from Japan, was still not utilized. No explanation were given and nobody really knows why.
This is not the ideal situation since Aceh is worse hit than Thailand or Malaysia and may need reconstruction efforts to be at its fastest pace. The reports and evaluations come at a particularly crucial time as memories of the disaster and public interest start to taper off.
*Asia's tsunami-ravaged coastlines still in disrepair one year later (CNA, Dec 21)
*Indonesia Will Organize Tsunami Early Warning System in Padang (Antara, Dec 21)