Indian Ocean Tsunamis Devastate Fisherfolk
Asian fisherfolk have been the most affected by the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea tsunamis of 26 December 2004 that were caused by the Sumatran Earthquake (see below for selected data and information on damage and casualties and assessments of needs for reconstruction).
Fisherfolk are amongst the poorest people in the region. They have lost not only many loved ones but also their livelihoods, homes as well as their fishing gear and boats. Many are fearful of returning to the sea and suffer from extreme post-disaster trauma.
The aquatic diversity of the region has also been devastated by the tsunami. Coastal fisheries have been depleted. Coral reefs have been destroyed by the force of the waves and are now choked with silt. Mangrove swamps and coastal breeding grounds for fish and other aquatic organisms have been severely damaged. It will take time for these wounds to heal.
Fisherfolk have the expertise to be the primary managers of the health of the coastline and rehabilitating the fishery. When given the opportunity they manage the shoreline, mangroves and coastal fishing zones - the source of most of the aquatic diversity and health of the oceans.
For reasons of their extreme poverty and their central role in restoring the marine ecosystem, the massive Aid effort must work with fisherfolk. It must support the organisations of fisherfolk and use their expertise to ensure the restoration of their livelihoods, re-equipping them for sustainable artisanal fishing, and, in the long-term, rehabilitating the coastline and marine fisheries.
As many of the reports below highlight, rehabilitation of livelihoods and rebuidling and repairing boats, fishing gear, landing areas and so on are priorities. So too is ensuring that fisherfolk have a fair share of the market and can add value through small-scale processing. Importantly, fisherfolk require assurances that their rights to land, beach access and artisanal fishing grounds - for housing, boat handling, fishing, processing and marketing - are protected. In addition, future safety at sea and disater preparedness measures need to be institututed. The focus on fisherfolk provides opportunities to improve their future.
On this page are a selected number of papers, press releases, links and information about the disaster, and selected data and information on damage and casualties and assessments of needs for reconstruction. These emphasise the need for improving the quality of aid for the long-term reconstruction effort that must focus on restoring the means of livelihoods to devastated fisherfolk communities....
...and if you want to contribute directly, you can donate on-line to Via Campesina, the global farmers movement, that is raising funds that will be provided directly for post tsunami reconstruction through fisherfolk and their organisations.
Tsunami and Fisherfolk - UK NGOs call for action by UK government and EU to work through the organisations of fisherfolk: and no dumping of decommissioned EU fishing boats on tsunami affected communities. Part of...:
"Tsunami, Mangroves and the Market Economy" by Devinder Sharma provides an analysis of the increased negative impact of the tsunami on fisherfolk due to the impostion of neoliberal policies in India (10 Jan 2005)
The article by John Kurien, Centre of Development Studies, "Tsunamis and a Secure Future for Fishing Communities" provides an agenda for action post tsunami that will give hope to fisherfolk in the region. (Updated 10 Jan 2005).
Guardian Newspaper article "Corrupted defence" by Mari Marcel Thekaekara, shows how the tsunami crisis facing fisherfolk in Tamil Nadu is magnified by violations of coastal regulations and beachside development - and the need to work through the organisations of fisherfolk (5 Jan 2005)
Pesticide Action Network - Asia/Pacific: please help support fisherfolk and peasant communities in their own relief and rehabilitation from the Tsunami disaster. Links to reports of reconstruction needs for fisherfolk communities in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. (7 Jan 2005)
The South Indian Federation of Fishermen's Societies (SIFFS) provides information about the impact, relief and reconstruction efforts post tsunami directly from the most affected communities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, India.
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) summarises damage across the region and the reconstruction needs of the millions of farmers and fisherfolk in coastal areas who have been affected by the tsunami disaster.
Natural disasters are not a rare occurrence along the coastal tract of Asia. We always have a tidal wave here, a cyclone there, or a typhoon brewing somewhere. Despite the warnings beamed over early warning systems, all these acts of nature result in the loss of life and property. We have become immune to such media reports of nature's fury. Most often they are distant events. As long as we are not the affected party, these coastal natural disasters come and go. There is the momentary sense of pity; sometimes an effort at reaching out to the anonymous victims. Then our lives move on.
The post-Christmas tsunami seems to have changed all this. This nameless, stealthy killer came in broad daylight, totally unannounced. Those who were fishing at sea did not perceive its presence. Those on land had no living experience of such wave behaviour and fury. It devastated the coastal communities of several countries all at once. It has traumatized those for whom Mother Sea was a source of life and sustenance. The adage that the oceans unite us and land mass divides us became undisputedly true -- except that this was not unity in life, but rather, in death and destruction.
A tsunami is a silent sub-surface wave train formed as a result of tremendous release of energy in the ocean floor due to an earthquake or volcanic eruption. Tsunami waves travel in the ocean at great speeds akin to that of a jet airliner. There is little dissipation of energy even after covering long distances. As tsunami waves reach the shallower water near the shore, friction with the continental shelf slows the front of the wave. Then the trailing waves pile onto the waves in front, like a rug crumpled against a wall. This makes the wave rise up to 30 feet before hitting the shore. Although greatly slowed, a tsunami still bursts onto land at high speeds, with enough momentum to flatten buildings and trees and to carry boats from the shore miles inland. Their onslaught on land comes without wind and rain. They strike with great stealth and surprise.
Fisherfolk are traumatized by the fact that the sea, in a rare display of fury, has deceived them and taken away their children, family members and property. The position that this was nature's fury, which no human agency could predict or prevent, is untenable. Coastal communities, scientists, the government and civil society are asking several important questions. Could thousands of lives have been saved if proper Coastal Regulation Zone plans had been implemented without pleading for numerous exemptions in the name of ‘development'? Could short and long terms measures have been taken to mitigate the extent of devastation inflicted on the coastal communities? If all fisherfolk had been given housing sites on the landward side of coastal roads would not the death toll have been lower? If natural green-belt barriers (such as mangroves, wind breaker trees) had been in place, would the damage to property and the death toll have been reduced? If the coastal communities had been given disaster management training could more lives have been saved? If the prime responsibility, as well as the finances and material resources, for safety and rescue were vested at the community level would the response time to the crisis have been more rapid and the damage greatly mitigated?
The answer to all these questions is a big YES! We now realize that the costs of neglecting several basic and simple precautionary measures have been so huge in terms of human lives and property. While the shock of this unprecedented disaster is still on own minds, it is the duty of those of us who have been spared the trauma, to commit ourselves to ensure that coastal communities – particular the fisherfolk among them who were the most affected – will have a safe and secure future. This disaster context should be turned into an opportunity -- not just to put in place emergency measures and early warning systems, but rather to work out a master rehabilitation plan for long term livelihood security for these communities.
Master Rehabilitation Plan
There is need to generate a larger consensus on this at the level of state and civil society. The plan should be the responsibility of the state, but it should be formulated and implemented in a participatory manner. The roles of civil society organizations and the affected community should be clearly spelt out. Such a master rehabilitation plan should consist of an agenda for action that covers the following realms.
Environmental protection of coastal land and sea
Protection of the coastal area ecosystem – composed of a sea and land interface – should receive top priority. Foresters should play a major role in this. They need to advise about location specific, appropriate green belt protection alternatives and also lobby for implementation of the Coastal Regulation Zone requirement of a 200 to 500 meter ‘no development' zone. Suggestions being made in certain influential quarters for building sea walls along the entire coastline need to be countered for their huge investment costs, scope for corruption, impact on natural coastal sand and water dynamics, adverse impact on coastal small-scale fishing and even on tourism potentials. The right approach is to have a menu of alternatives with the appropriate one chosen keeping the geo-physical and ecological characteristics of the coastal tract and its uses in mind.
Housing and related facilities
Good housing, appropriate sanitation and water facilities, lighting and spacious community facilities are a priority if the hitherto abysmal quality of life of fishing communities is to be radically improved. These facilities must be provided to them close to the ‘no development zone' with secure land rights. Creative architects need to provide several disaster-proof building plans where adequate space is provided around a house and only the basic ‘shell' is standardized. Finances should be given to each family to innovate around it in accordance to their needs. Sanitation structures need to factor in the highly porous nature of coastal land. This makes pit latrines a veritable disease bomb. Alternatives such as dry composting toilets coupled with hygiene education are vital. Portable water and rainwater harvesting, where appropriate, should be provided.
Gainful employment in fishing and related activities
Most fisherfolk wish to get back to their livelihoods. This is also one way to get over the trauma which many of them suffered. All the small beach landing crafts – particularly kattumarams -- can be replaced without much lead-time if appropriate wood from forestry schemes in states such as Kerala can be supplied. Nets and small-scale motors are also easily supplied by private companies. The major problem relates to replacing the trawlers which were destroyed. Supplying new trawlers is not the right option. There was so much excess capacity in trawlers in the pre-tsunami phase. This was contributing to economic, biological and ecosystem overfishing. If those who lost trawlers are insistent on getting them back, then the solution should be to provide them with a good second hand one which is easily and quickly available. Trawler crew can be given the option of going back to small-scale fishing or trained for alternate livelihoods.
Coastal aquaculture farms were damaged. However, given the adverse social, ecological and economic impacts which this industry has had on other coastal communities in the past, measures for its rehabilitation away from the coastal belt should be given serious thought. Adequate compensation should be provided to families of fish-farm workers who have lost their lives. Alternate rehabilitation options should be provided to fish-farm workers who have lost their livelihoods.
Decentralized, low-energy using fish processing techniques as well as coastal and market infrastructure for hygienic fish marketing should be popularized. They should focus on the domestic market potentials. These investments will greatly help women from fishing communities to attain improved incomes.
Investment in community-oriented social infrastructure should be given a priority. Roads to coastal areas, bridges, community halls, schools and fishery-related infrastructure are major investments that can absorb a sizable amount of aid contributions and community labour. They can also become realms for both immediate ‘food for work' type of programmes and conscious alternative employment training programmes for many of the tsunami-displaced persons who do not wish to go back to sea for a variety of reasons.
Education and training
Post-tsunami rehabilitation is a good occasion to solve the educational backwardness of the fishing communities. They need a greater range of technical skills. This is an opportune moment to involve young men and women from the community to learn-by-doing. This can also be matched with a variety of training schemes to develop skills in trades which are now much sought after in the service sector -- masonry, plumbing, carpentry, home nursing, geriatric care, water harvesting and ecological sanitation skills to name a few. Residential fishery schools starting from the primary classes onwards will also be a boon for the large number of tsunami orphans and the future generation.
Safety and disaster preparedness
Though tsunamis are rare, monsoon sea ingress, cyclones and tidal waves are a fact of life along the coastal belt. The yearly calamities can be reduced if an early warning system is put in place and safety and disaster management training is provided. A village-based IT-enhanced communications network that is linked horizontally across coastal villages and vertically to higher level disaster management cells will be required. This can also be a realm to exchange the nuanced traditional knowledge of fishing communities on weather and the sea. Every village should have its own well-trained safety brigade of women and men, fashioned along the lines of a home guard. An FM radio service focusing on the coastal communities can serve the purpose of education, entertainment and safety. Sea safety kits and radios supplied to fisherfolk will be a worthwhile investment.
Protective social security
Fishing is by far the riskiest occupation in the world. The tsunami has revealed the very low insurance coverage across the coastal communities. This should also be the occasion for the state and public sector insurance companies to reach out to the weaker sections in the community with affordable and subsidized insurance policies and social security packages for health, accident and old age pensions for men and women. The mechanism for disbursal of such welfare measures should be decentralized. A fishery disaster insurance scheme that will cover loss of life and property as a result of a collective natural disaster with the premium paid fully by the government is warranted.
Responsible fishery resource management
Considerable lip service has been paid to the need for moving towards responsible fishery resource management. This is the occasion to take firm decisions and positive action by both the state and the community to achieve this. Tsunami affected fisherfolk who wish to leave fishing, particularly the older among them, should be given a good compensation package. Many trawler owners may use this occasion for an honorable exit from the fishery. They must be adequately compensated. Community initiatives for erecting coastal artificial reefs which can act as barriers to nature's fury and also help to rejuvenate coastal living resources should be encouraged. Greater state and community co-management arrangements for the coastal waters need to be negotiated. Aquarian reforms assuring rights to coastal waters and producer controlled arrangements for the first sale of fish should be enacted.
Fishing communities have rarely being at the center of attention of civil society. Now that so many of them have been taken away by the sea and thousands are faced with a shattered future, they are the focus of an outpouring of concern. This swell of human kindness – if it is not to take the shape of a tsunami of misplaced concerns and competing priorities – needs to be properly channeled. The proposals above should be seen as a modest attempt to begin a discussion on the medium and long-term issues that need to be factored into any rehabilitation plan for the survivors. If successful, this can form the basis for a master plan for ensuring a secure future for fishing communities across the country.
(* the author started professional life organizing cooperatives among small-scale coastal fishing communities and is currently Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum- 695 011. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) 10 January 2005
By Devinder Sharma
As the first news reports of the devastation caused by the tsunami killer waves began to pour in, a newsreader on Aaj Tak's Headline Today television channel asked his correspondent reporting from the scene of destruction in Tamil Nadu in south of India : “Any idea about how much is the loss to business? Can you find that out because that would be more important for our business leaders?”
Little did the newscaster realise or even know that the tsunami disaster, which eventually turned out to be a catastrophe, was more or less the outcome of faulty business and economics. The magnitude of the disaster was only exacerbated by the neo liberal economic policies that pushed economic growth at the expanse of human life. It was the outcome of an insane economic system – led by the World Bank and IMF – that believes in usurping environment, nature and human lives for the sake of unsustainable economic growth for a few.
Since the 1960s, the Asian sea-coast region has been plundered by the large industrialised shrimp firms that brought environmentally-unfriendly aquaculture to its sea shores. Shrimp cultivation, rising to over 8 billion tonnes a year in the year 2000, had already played havoc with the fragile eco-systems. The ‘rape-and-run' industry, as the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) once termed it, was largely funded by the World Bank. Nearly 72 per cent of the shrimp farming is confined to Asia.
The expansion of shrimp farming was at the cost of tropical mangroves -- amongst the world's most important ecosystems. Each acre of mangrove forest destroyed results in an estimated 676 pounds loss in marine harvest. Mangrove swamps have been nature's protection for the coastal regions from the large waves, weathering the impact of cyclones, and serving as a nursery for three-fourth of the commercial fish species that spend part of their life cycle in the mangrove swamps. Mangroves in any case were one of the world's most threatened habitats but instead of replanting the mangrove swamps, faulty economic policies only hastened its disappearance. Despite warning by ecologists and environmentalists, the World Bank turned a deaf ear.
Shrimp farming continued its destructive spree, eating away more than half of the world's mangroves. Since the 1960s, for instance, aquaculture in Thailand resulted in a loss of over 65,000 hectares of mangroves. In Indonesia, Java lost 70 per cent of its mangroves, Sulawesi 49 per cent and Sumatra 36 per cent. So much so that at the time the tsunami struck in all its fury, logging companies were busy axing mangroves in the Aceh province of Indonesia for exports to Malaysia and Singapore.
In India, mangrove cover has been reduced to less than a third of its original in the past three decades. Between 1963 and 1977, the period when aquaculture industry took roots, India destroyed nearly 50 per cent of its mangroves. Local communities were forcibly evicted to make way for the shrimp farms. In Andhra Pradesh, more than 50,000 people were forcibly removed and millions displaced to make room for the aquaculture farms. Whatever remained of the mangroves was cut down by the hotel industry. Aided and abetted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Ministry of Industries, builders moved in to ravage the coastline.
Five-star hotels, golf courses, industries, and mansions sprung up all along disregarding the concern being expressed by environmentalists. These two ministries worked overtime to dilute the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms thereby allowing the hotels to even take over the 500 metre buffer that was supposed to be maintained along the beach. In an era of market economy, that was reflected through misplaced Shining India slogan, the bureaucrats are in league with the industrialists and big business interests. Much of the responsibility for the huge death toll therefore rests with the government and the free market apologists.
Tourism boom in the Asia-Pacific region coincided with the destructive fallout of the growth in shrimp cultivation. Over the last decade, tourist arrivals and receipts rose faster than any other region in the world, almost twice the rates of industrialized countries. Projections for the year 2010 indicate that the region will surpass the Americas to become the world's number two tourism region, with 229 million arrivals. What is being projected as an indicator of spectacular economic growth hides the enormous environmental costs that these countries have suffered and will have to undergo in future.
In the past two decades, the entire coastline along the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, and Strait of Malacca in the Indian Ocean and all along the South Pacific Ocean has been a witness to massive investments in tourism and hotels. Myanmar and Maldives suffered very less from the killing spree of the tsunami because the tourism industry had so far not spread its tentacles to the virgin mangroves and coral reefs surrounding the coastline. The large coral reef surrounding the islands of Maldives absorbed much of the tidal fury thereby restricting the human loss to a little over 100 dead. Coral reef absorbs the sea's fury by breaking the waves. The tragedy however is that more than 70 per cent of world's coral reef has already been destroyed.
The island chain of Surin off the west coast of Thailand similarly escaped heavy destruction. The ring of coral reef that surrounds the islands did receive some punching from the furious waves but kept firm and thereby helped break the lethal power of the tsunami. Mangroves help to protect offshore coral reefs by filtering out the silt flowing seawards from the land. Tourism growth, whether in the name of eco-tourism or leisure tourism, decimated the mangroves and destroyed the coral reefs.
If only the mangroves were intact, the damage from the tsunamis would have been greatly minimized. Ecologists tell us that mangroves provide double protection – the first layer of red mangroves with their flexible branches and tangled roots hanging in the coastal waters absorb the first shock waves. The second layer of tall black mangroves than operates like a wall withstanding much of the sea's fury. Mangroves in addition absorb more carbon dioxide per unit area than ocean phytoplankton, a critical factor in global warming.
It happened earlier in Bangladesh. In 1960, a tsunami wave hit the coast in an area where mangroves were intact. There was not a single human loss. These mangroves were subsequently cut down and replaced with shrimp farms. In 1991, thousands of people were killed when a tsunami of the same magnitude hit the same region. In Tamil Nadu, in south India, Pichavaram and Muthupet with dense mangroves suffered low human casualties and less economic damage from the Dec 26 tsunami. Earlier, the famed mangroves of Bhiterkanika in Orissa (which also serve as the breeding ground for the Olive-Ridley turtles) had reduced the impact of the ‘super cyclone' that had struck in Oct 1999, killing over 10,000 people and rendering millions homeless.
The epicentre of the Dec 26 killer tsunami was close to Simeulue Island, in Indonesia. The death toll on this particular island was significantly low simply because the inhabitants had the traditional knowledge about tsunami that invariably happened after a quake. In Nias island, which is close to Simeulue island, mangroves had acted like a wall helping people from the destruction. The challenge therefore for the developing countries is to learn from the time-tested technologies that have been perfected by the local communities.
Let us now look at the comparative advantage of protecting environment and thereby reducing the havoc from the growth-oriented market economy. Having grown tenfold in the last 15 years, shrimp farming is now a $9 billion industry. It is estimated that shrimp consumption in North America, Japan and Western Europe has increased by 300 per cent within the last ten years. The massive wave of destruction caused by the Dec 26 tsunami in 11 Asian countries alone has surpassed the economic gain that the shrimp industry claims to have harvested by several times. With over 1,50,000 people dead, the staggering social and economic loss will take some time to be ascertained.
World governments have so far pledged US$4 billion in aid. This does not including the billions that are being spent by relief agencies. World Bank has in addition considering boosting the aid packet to US$1.5 billion. It has already given (by Jan 10, 2005) US$175 million, and bank President James Wolfensohn has been quoted as saying: “We can go up to even $1 billion to $1.5 billion depending on the needs…” In addition, the World Food Programme (WFP) plans to feed some 2 million survivors for the next six months. The feeding operation is likely to cost US$180 million. If only successive presidents of the World Bank had refrained from aggressively promoted ecologically unsound but market friendly economic policies, a lot of human lives and the resulting costs could have been saved.
What did the world gain from pushing in market reforms with utter disregard to environment and human lives? Can Wolfensohn justify the financial backing doled out to the aquaculture and tourism sectors by drawing a balance sheet of the costs and benefits, including the social cost involved? Take the shrimp farms, for instance. The life cycle of a shrimp farm is a maximum of two to five years. The ponds are then abandoned leaving behind toxic waste, destroyed ecosystems and displaced communities, annihilating livelihoods. The farms come up at the cost of natural eco-systems including mangroves. The whole cycle is then repeated in another pristine coastal area. It has been estimated that economic losses due to the shrimp farms are approximately five times the potential earnings.
Tourism is no better. Kerala in south India, marketed as “God's own country”, destroyed the mangroves in a desperate bid to lure the tourists. It is only after tsunami struck that the state government was quick to announce an Rs 340-million project aimed at insulating the Kerala coastline against tidal surges. Other tourist destinations in Asia will now probably go for a rethinking. The question therefore that needs to be asked is whether we need to extract a heavy human toll before we realize the follies of blindly aping the stupid market economy mantra? How many more people we want to die and how many millions we want to go homeless before we realize the grave mistake of pushing in the market economy? Who will hold these free market economists responsible for the human loss and suffering? #
(Devinder Sharma is a New Delhi-based food and agriculture policy analyst. Responses can be mailed to: email@example.com )
The first lesson is about development in coastal regions. Respect for the fragility and vulnerability of coastal ecosystems has been sacrificed for hotels and holiday resorts, shrimp farms and refineries. Mangroves and coral reefs have been relentlessly destroyed, taking away the protective barriers. Our study of the Orissa cyclone in India in 1999, which killed 30,000 people, found that the destruction was much more severe where the mangroves had been cut down for shrimp farms and an oil refinery.
The people's movement against industrial shrimp farming led to a court order to shut down the farms within 500 metres of the coastline. But the shrimp industry tried to undo environmental protection laws by seeking exemption from the government. We calculate that every acre of shrimp farming has an ecological footprint of 100 acres in terms of destruction of mangroves and the surrounding land, along with sea pollution. Every dollar generated by shrimp exports leaves behind $10 of ecological and economic destruction.
Conversely, the indigenous tribes of Andaman and Nicobar - the Onges, Jarawas, Sentinelese and Shompen - who engage in traditional fishing methods, had the lowest casualties, even though they were closest on the Indian sub-continent to the epicentre of the earthquake.
The government of Kerala state, observing that the tsunami left less destruction in regions protected by mangroves than barren and exposed beaches, has started a project for insulating coasts with mangroves.
Second, the tsunami shows us how severe the costs of continuing business as usual can be. The tsunami should wake up people like [Bjorn] Lomberg [an environmentalist who has questioned global warming]. They should ask the people of the Maldives whether they accept the inevitability of irreversible sea-level rise due to climate change induced by the burning of fossil fuels. I felt nature was telling us: "This is what sea-level rise will look like, this is how entire societies will be robbed of their ecological space to live in peace on the planet."
The third lesson is that environmental vulnerability must be reduced, not increased, and the true costs of damaging development taken into account.
10 January 2005, Mannam Memorial National Club, Trivandrum
Over one hundred people, consisting of fishermen and women, government officials, NGO activists and scientists, participated in the one-day Consultation on “Tsunami Disaster: Implications and Lessons for the Future”, organized by the South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies (SIFFS) in Trivandrum, Kerala, on 10 January 2005. The following are the recommendations made by the Consultation:
1. Coastal zone protection
6. Social security measures
This article comes from Tsunami 2004 India: Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
The URL for this story is:
(selected data and information)
Marine fisheries and aquaculture infrastructure in many coastal areas destroyed or damaged
13 January 2005 , Rome -- The tsunami waves have had a devastating impact on the fisheries sector in many countries of the Indian Ocean , FAO said today.
In Sri Lanka , more than 7 500 fishers have been killed by the tsunami and over 5 600 are still missing. More than 5 000 Sri Lankan fishing families have been displaced and 80 percent of coastal fishing vessels have been completely destroyed or very seriously damaged, including around 19 000 boats. Ten out of the 12 main fishing harbours in the country have been completely devastated including infrastructure such as ice plants, cold rooms, workshops and slipways.
FAO has already sent fisheries experts to Sri Lanka to advise the government on the repair and rehabilitation of fishing harbours and infrastructure, fishing boats and fishing gear.
In the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Province of Indonesia , where 42 000 fishers and their families live, 70 percent of the small-scale fishing fleet have been destroyed. In Nias Island , about 800 fishing canoes have been destroyed. Two thirds of local fisherfolk from the capital Banda Aceh were killed by the waves.
Fish farming was severely affected in northern Sumatra with about 1 000 fish cage farms having been completely destroyed.
"FAO is currently assessing the damage and will help the government and local authorities to repair and replace fishing boats and gear and start with the initial repair of water fishponds and infrastructure so that fish production can be resumed as soon as possible," said Jeremy Turner, Chief of the Fishery Technology Service.
In the affected coastal areas of Thailand , 386 fishing villages with a population of around 120 000 people have lost about 4 500 fishing boats, or their fishing gear has been seriously damaged. Most fishing boats are owned by small-scale, traditional fishers. The total damage to marine capture fisheries alone is estimated at around $16.6 million.
Eight fishing harbours and their infrastructure have been seriously damaged. The affected aquaculture industry has suffered a serious setback. A total of around 15 800 fishing cages have been damaged, this has caused losses of about $33 million. In some areas, seafood supplies have dropped by 90 percent since the tsunami.
FAO is preparing support measures for fisherfolk in six southern Provinces of Thailand providing essential fisheries inputs and assisting in the repair of damaged fishing vessels and damaged fishery infrastructure.
In the Maldives , where a very large part of the population depends on fishing for their livelihood, more than one third of all inhabited islands were severely damaged and hundreds of boats and harbours were destroyed. FAO is planning to assist the country with the repair and replacement of fishing boats, engines and fishing gear as well as with the repair and rehabilitation of fisheries infrastructure.
In the state of Andhra Pradesh in India , fishers along the 1 000 km coastline were the worst hit by the tsunamis. Around 2 000 fishing boats and about 48 000 fishing gears were lost, about 300 000 fishers have lost their jobs. In the state of Tamil Nadu, 591 fishing villages and 30 islands of the Andaman and Nicobar islands have been badly affected by the tsunamis. India 's seafood exports may decline by around 30 percent as a result of the tsunami.
In Myanmar , some 200 villages spread along the southern coast and heavily relying on fishing have been hit by tsunamis and lost fishing vessels, fishing gear and infrastructure. Some 17 seaside fishing villages have been reported as destroyed and at least 53 people as killed by the tsunamis. FAO is preparing for a long-term participation in relief and rehabilitation measures for the affected fishing communities.
In Malaysia , the livelihoods of about 6 000 fishers have been affected by the disaster.
In Somalia , around 2 600 fishing boats have been destroyed. FAO is assisting in damage and needs assessments and making preparations for the repair of damaged fishing vessels and for the provision of essential fishing inputs in six southern provinces of the country. FAO will also provide short-term financial aid and training in improved fishing techniques and boatbuilding to about 2 000 fishers
In the Seychelles , coastal fish farms and the artisanal fisheries sector suffered extensively. A great number of fishing vessels were damaged or lost. The two fish processing plants and cold storage facilities located at the fishing port in Victoria were also affected by the tsunamis. FAO is preparing assistance programmes for the repair and replacement of fishing vessels and landing facilities and for the restoration of sustainable livelihoods in the fisheries sector.
The damage caused by the recent tsunamis in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of the affected countries is worse and more complex than expected, Turner said.
FAO's Fisheries Department has embarked on a concerted effort to assist the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of the tsunami effected countries through relief and rehabilitation measures and projects.
some ideas from ICSF
The post-tsunami period has seen many relief and rehabilitation initiatives and there is now some reflection on longer-term rehabilitation issues. It would be important to share some of the views being discussed here in India and elsewhere, and perhaps to develop a shared understanding of rehabilitation issues from a small- scale fisheries perspective in all countries affected by the tsunami. This is an initial note by ICSF to start the process.
Some of the important issues emerging from the debate on long-term rehabilitation are:
Face the challenges of Tsunami disaster: Rebuild the Life & Livelihoods of the People
Long term activities identified:
c. Re-establish the destroyed environment :
Edited extract from http://www.ifg.org/analysis/WFFP%20Tsunami.html
The disastrous tsunami hit the southern part of Thailand in 6 provinces, Phu-ket, Phang-nga, Ra-nong, Kra-bi,Trang and Sa-tul. It is really difficult time for all 418 poor fisherfolk villages in these provinces as the Tsunami had taken away their life, husbands, wife, children, cousin, houses, boats, fishing gears and most important their hope and human dignity. After the situation 2 days, the Federation of Southern Fisherfolk which is part of Assembly of the Poor and La Via Campesina together with 30 civil groups, NGOs, and academicians in the South, North, West, Northeast, and Central have been formed themselves as the Coalition Network for Andaman Coastal Community Support to immediate support and release help for these fisherfolk communities.
The network had set the teams to relieve, help and do fact finding in all fisherfolk villages for the last 9 days. We found out and divided the impacts in these communities into 2 groups.
The first community group are severely affected as their communities had been completely destroyed. All houses, all boats, fishing gears had been gone with the wave (30 communities). This group included the minority group who live in the sea and small islands, like Mor-gan and U-rak-ra-woy.
The second community group (124 communities) are less critical than the first group but seriously need the support. As some of their houses, boats, fishing gears, and farm land had been destroyed in the difficult way to live or make a living. So far the network and the Federation of Southern Fisherfolk had surveyed in 186 fisherfolk villages in 6 provinces. We found out 272 members dead, 26 missing, 99 injured. The members lost 2,477 small fishing boats, 15,534 fishing net (kra-chang), 2,448 crab fishing gears, 939 shrimp fishing gears, 3,277 fish fishing gears, 21,245 crab small fishing net (Sai-Poo),915 small fishing net, 8,271 squid fishing net and 292 fishing floating.
There are 232 villages more to survey. This is excluded Nam- Kem and Kao-lak villages, and PP Island which are still very difficult to find dead body and missing people. Briefly they estimated 4,900 people dead and 6,000 missing in only this area. In critical areas, the network had set teams and volunteers to work for immediate support and recover in the long term. These includes temporary camp and house construction, health care service, Mother and child care, hope and spirit moral support. In some families who had better conditions, the teams start boat repairing, engine repairing and providing new fishing gears for the members. For the next phase, medium term they need to build up their fisherfolk communities again. In some areas not that severe condition, the network provided immediate support, food, things need in daily life, boat repairing, providing new fishing gears and hope and spirit support. In the long term, they need to work on their local organization for community and coastal resource recovery.
The heart of this relief and community rehabilitation are to build up and support local fisherfolk groups to be key organizations for their long term recovery. The volunteers and working teams now need a lot of support from all groups. The immediate needs go to temporary house construction, boat repairing and buying fishing gears to support these fisherfolk to survive and recover their life again.
(Source: Office for The Coalition Network for Andaman Coastal Community Support, 8/3 Kok-chan Rd., Tub-tieng subdistrict, Muang district, Trang province 92000)
ESTIMATES OF COSTS OF RECONSTRUCTION / REPLACEMENT
House @ Rs. 1,00,000/, Vallam @ Rs. 50,000/, Kattumaran @ Rs. 50,000/, Nets @ Rs.10,000/.
Housing – 5269 units x 1,00,000 = Rs 52,69,00,000/
Vallams - 1411 units x 50,000 = Rs. 7,05,50,000/
Kattumaran 6016 units x 50,000 = Rs. 30,08,00,000/
Nets 9451sets x 10,000 = Rs 10,45,10,000/
Total Rs.100, 27,60,000/
(Source: Thomas Kocherry, World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) India, National Fish workers Forum(NFF))
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in a separate statement, said around 2,600 fishing boats had been destroyed along the Somali coast.
FAO, which was preparing to assist in getting the damaged fishing vessels repaired, said it would support the provision of fishing inputs. It would also provide short-term financial aid and training in improved fishing techniques and boat building to about 2,000 fishermen.
9 Jan: The death toll in India is now more than 10,000 with the number of missing at 5,689, most of them from fishing communities and most presumed dead. (Scotland on Sunday) http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=25442005
9 Jan: Sri Lankans Recall Trauma, Loss as the Instinct to Rebuild Stirs. In this tight-knit neighborhood of fishermen, known as Lovigahawtya, the 48 families suffered 68 deaths. (Los Angeles Times) http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-town9jan09,1,798292.story?coll=la-headlines-world&ctrack=1&cset=true
2 Jan: ...Gamel Silua described how his 72-year-old father, one of the country's [Sri Lanka's] famous stilt fishermen who perch on stakes out at sea and fish with rod and line, was swept away by the tsunami. “One moment he was there. The next he was gone,” he said. “We have never found his body.” (London Times) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,18690-1422835,00.html
Part of MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY (MPH) UK coalition of 100 leading NGOs, campaigns, trade unions and faith groups
Trade and the Tsunami
Background Trade Justice Movement Briefing for MPH
The Asian tsunami has caused massive damage to many Asian countries, already suffering from high levels of poverty and vulnerability. It is vitally important that the high profile relief efforts are accompanied by measures to address the long-term problems created by the Tsunami, or which now threaten to increase the vulnerability of the poorest groups within affected countries.
Tsunami affected countries, as well as other poor countries, will need a fairer deal on trade if they are to recover from the disaster over the longer term. Certain sectors are of particular importance to Tsunami affected countries. These include the sectors that have been disproportionately impacted by the disaster (for example fisherfolk). They also include those sectors that provide the vital economic growth and employment that will be needed to help affected countries recover.
The Tsunami and Clothing
The European Union and the USA should help disaster-struck countries by immediately improving access to their markets for exports that are vital to the region's economies. Increased exports of textiles and clothing, for example, could generate tens of thousands of jobs, raise incomes, and generate the foreign exchange that affected countries need for essential imports and the enormous challenge of post-tsunami reconstruction. In Sri Lanka, the clothing sector accounts for more than half of the country's total export income and provides 350,000 jobs, mainly for women.
It is now time for the USA and EU to end the punitive duties that affect the tsunami-hit countries. In 2003, the US and EU treasuries collected nearly US$1 billion in taxes solely on Sri Lankan and Indonesian exports of clothing and textiles. These sums may well come close to the amount of aid they disburse. FOOTNOTE
Six days after the tsunami hit, on 1 January, the Multi-Fibre Arrangement came to an end. China and India will gain from the abolition of quotas but the former group of countries will lose out. Sri Lanka, for example, could lose 100,000 jobs as a result of the increased competition. Some analysts believe that Indonesia could lose even more. For these countries, the disaster could not have come at a worse time.
The EU and USA should immediately remove tariff barriers to imports of textiles and clothing from tsunami-affected countries. To avoid unintended discrimination, such zero tariffs should be extended to other poor countries that are highly dependent on textile and clothing exports.
The EU should also immediately simplify its ‘rules of origin' affecting the Maldives and other Least Developed Countries, to improve their access to European markets. As one of the world's poorest countries, the Maldives should be entitled to supply clothes for the European market without paying import taxes, but the EU insists that both the fabric and the clothing must be made in the Maldives in order for goods to qualify – a condition that the Maldives, along with other poor exporting countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, cannot meet. As a result, the Maldives has to pay duty on three-quarters of its sales. Sri Lanka, a non-LDC, faces a similar problem: if it imports fabric from the cheapest source – China, for example – it pays higher duty in the EU. If it sources more expensive fabric from the region, it loses competitiveness. The rules of origin should be simplified for Sri Lanka and the few other non-LDCs highly dependent on clothing exports.
Transnational clothing and footwear companies have a responsibility to defer any decision to shift production out of tsunami-affected countries. Companies, such as GAP, Victoria's Secret, ASDA, Marks and Spencers, and NIKE, source goods from Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Some might have been considering shifting their production from tsunami-affected countries to their cheaper competitors, such as China. Any relocation decision should be deferred. If and when production does move, it should be gradual, with full respect for labour rights, such as redundancy payments.
Fisherfolk are amongst the poorest people in the region. They are also one of the most negatively affected communities, particularly in Tamil Nadu, India but also in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Somalia and the Andaman Islands.
Fisherfolk and their families have suffered tremendous loss of life and also devastation to their livelihoods, homes as well as their fishing gear and boats. The aquatic diversity of the region has also been devastated by the tsunami. Coral reefs have been destroyed by the force of the waves and are now choked with silt. Mangrove swamps and coastal breeding grounds for fish and other aquatic organisms have been severely damaged.
The impact of the tsunami has aggravated the problems already faced by fisherfolk of increasing pressures on the coastal environment from increased tourism and industrialised forms of fishing.
It is important that relief efforts channel support to fisherfolk's own existing local and regional groups and aim to support the artisanal fishing sector. This should be accompanied by a change in approach from the current marginalisation of fisherfolk communities in government and donor policies.
There is a concern in Sri Lanka, India and elsewhere, voiced by organisations of small-scale fisherfolk that relief efforts should focus on re-establishing the artisanal fisheries sector as a priority. In Sri Lanka, for example, an estimated 8000 small fishing boats, out-rigger orus, need to be replaced. The industrial fishery sector, which although an important foreign exchange earner in Sri Lanka was over-capacity and donations from the EU of decommissioned industrial fishing boats would make the situation worse.
We call on the UK government to direct its relief aid towards protecting the livelihoods, environment and markets of small-scale fisherfolk and rebuilding their boatyards, boats and fishing gear, as has been recognised as a priority by British fishing crews in their Fish and Ships initiative;
and for HMG to resist pressures to send decommissioned boats as part of the UK/EU relief effort.
It remains critical that any trade negotiations – for example on agriculture, fisheries and tourism - should not compromise the ability of communities affected by the tsunami to rebuild their livelihoods. Negotiations on Non Agricultural Market Access (NAMA), including fisheries and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) including tourism, should not compromise the ability of fishing and other coastal communities to rebuild their livelihoods. Particular attention should be given by WTO members to the right of countries to protect affected sectors – negotiations are currently underway.
The Tsunami, Aid, Debt Relief and Conditionality
Previously fragile local markets in many of the affected countries, made even more so by the tsunami, must not be forced open by economic conditions attached to aid and any subsequent debt cancellation.
Any aid and debt relief provided should not come with conditions related to trade liberalisation. Indonesia in particular has suffered from trade liberalisation conditionality attached to previous IMF programmes and this should not be repeated. Rural services and rural poverty, and therefore vulnerability, in Sri Lanka have also been detrimentally impacted from reductions in support to farmers and increasing charges on basic services.
Infrastructure and the provision of public utilities will have been devastated by the tsunami. Priority should be given to tackling these (supply-side) constraints to facilitate the trade of products and services onto local, national and international markets, where appropriate.
In 2003, the USA collected US$ 244 million from Sri Lanka's sales of textiles and clothing and US$426 million from Indonesia's. The figures for the EU are US$77 million and US$180 million respectively (Oxfam estimates).
14 July 2006
The Tsunami Evaluation Coalition (TEC) is critical of the international rebuilding effort that often weakened local capacities yet it confirmed that most of the immediate relief was provided by the local population.
Some press reports have highlighted these failings - e.g. the Guardian "Tsunami relief swept locals aside, study finds" http://www.guardian.co.uk/tsunami/story/0,,1820956,00.html and the Daily Telegraph "Tsunami charities 'swept locals aside in rush to spend cash' " http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/07/15/waid15.xml
This confirms what many have observed on the ground. These concerns were already being voiced by local coastal communities and their organisations within a few weeks of the disaster
and yet little was done about it
In April 2005, Civil Society Organisations and social movements presented the Colombo Statement on A People’s Process for Post-Tsunami Rebuilding: “ We reaffirm the fundamental principle for post-tsunami rebuilding: the need for people, particularly the affected people, to be the owners and therefore the designers and decision makers of the process of rebuilding." http://www.icsf.net/jsp/english/flashnews/rehabDocs/sta0101.pdf
The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) meeting in Jan 2006 provided a useful summary of experiences especially as they related to coastal fisheries communities http://www.icsf.net/jsp/english/pubPages/proceedings/pros08.jsp . It concluded, among other points, that aid efforts must strengthen local institutions and their capacity.
There is still time and significant resources are still available to right some wrongs but, more so, to work with local coastal communities, artisanal fisherfolk and their organisations to secure a future that is better than before the tsunami struck.
Chair, UK Food Group
17 July 2006
The TEC secretariat is based in London. It is an international consortium managed by INGOs and UN organisations. There are links on the website to NGOs' own evaluations http://www.tsunami-evaluation.org/ . Below are selected quotes from the TEC report with links to relevant sections.
TEC REPORT – selected extracts
Foreword by Bill Clinton in which he summarises his reading of the report (my emphases)
“To my mind, the overriding messages of this report are three-fold:
First, we must do better at utilizing and working alongside local structures. With nothing but good intentions, the international community descends into crisis situations in enormous numbers and its activities too often leave the very communities we are there to help on the sidelines. Local structures are already in place and more often than not the 'first responders' to a crisis. The way the international community goes about providing relief and recovery assistance must actively strengthen, not undermine, these local actors.
Second, we must find the will and the resources to invest much more in risk reduction and preparedness measures. Local structures and local measures - whether part of national or provincial government efforts or embedded in the communities - need to be strengthened to reduce vulnerabilities to tomorrow's disasters. And international and local actors need to forge solid partnerships between and among themselves, well in advance of their being tested in crisis.
Third, we must translate good intentions into meaningful reform. The report identifies critical systemic challenges for the humanitarian community, many of which were analyzed at length in the aftermath of the Rwanda crisis and have already been included in a range of standards and codes of conduct. But the fact that we continue to struggle to turn these principles into practice, as this report highlights, demands that we set about on our shared agenda for reform with the courage and commitment necessary to see the process through to full implementation.”
Recommendations of the Synthesis report
1The international humanitarian community needs a fundamental reorientation from supplying aid to supporting and facilitating communities' own relief and recovery priorities.
2 All actors should strive to increase their disaster response capacities and to improve the linkages and coherence between themselves and other actors in the international disaster response system, including those from the affected countries themselves.
3 The international relief system should establish an accreditation and certification system to distinguish agencies that work to a professional standard in a particular sector.
4 All actors need to make the current funding system impartial, and more efficient, flexible, transparent and better aligned with principles of good donorship.
Five studies are published alongside the Synthesis Report as a set and their titles are:
• Coordination of the international response to tsunami-affected countries
• The role of needs assessment in the tsunami response
• Impact of the tsunami response on local and national capacities (see recommendations below)
• Links between relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD) in the tsunami response
• The funding response to the tsunami. populations.
The synthesis report highlights problems in the rebuilding process which led to greater inequities, gender- and conflict-insensitive programming, indignities, cultural offence and waste e.g .(my headings):
Marginalising the poor
The concentration on distribution of assets, especially boats, demonstrated a failure to understand and support diversified and sustainable livelihoods and communities. Affected people have frequently complained that NGOs deal only with village officials and that poorer people are marginalised. At best, the international response restored the ‘status quo ante'. At worst, it strengthened those who were better off and/or more articulate, such as fishermen who possessed boats, while marginalising those who had few assets, notably women and the poor.
Weakening local capacity
Weak information flows
Access to high quality information enables affected people to define and demand accountability, based on their own expectations and standards. It also allows them to plan their own recovery. Yet international organisations frequently failed in the modest objective of informing affected people in an accurate, timely, and comprehensive manner. The TEC LRRD Report (2006) notes: ‘A tragic combination of arrogance and ignorance has characterised how much of the aid community… misled people[.]' (p83); ‘Poor information flow is undoubtedly the biggest source of dissatisfaction, anger and frustration among affected people' (p73); ‘[S]ome… interventions may actually undermine future development[.] A lack of information to affected populations about reconstruction plans greatly limits their capacity to proceed with their own LRRD projects' (p10).
Other identified weaknesses include rarely coordinated or shared assessments, ‘supply-driven',
Impact on Local and National Capacities
6.2.1 Overarching recommendation
Sector-wide discussions at the global level should be initiated to address the need
for a fundamental re-orientation of the humanitarian sector based on the principle
that the ownership of humanitarian assistance should rest with claim-holders.
This implies a shift of emphasis from delivery to support and facilitation. Such
discussions are expected to facilitate the implementation of the following
6.2.2 Recommendation 1: Engagement with local and
• International agencies should prepare in advance for the problems of scaling
up not simply by identifying resources but also by making their systems and
practices suitable for maximum participation by local people.
• They should also make plans to shift into more collective ways of working
during ‘mega-disasters' in order to ensure that they do not extend beyond their
competence but instead link with others and share roles.
• They should have clear partnership strategies and develop local partnerships
from the start in order to avoid glitches during the transition to recovery.
• They should institute procedures for making grants for longer time periods
even from the outset of an intervention, and should critically examine reporting
• Specific agreements and protocols should be made to limit ‘poaching' of staff
particularly to ensure that local capacity is not undermined.
6.2.3 Recommendation 2: Attention to social
inequalities, exclusion and hierarchies
• Planning should be based on the assumption that aid is likely to reinforce
inequalities within the community unless corrective action is taken.
• Planning should also take account of the complexity of community structures
and the need, therefore, for knowledgeable local intermediaries with power to
• Inclusion of the most marginalised should be treated as a fundamental
principle or right, regardless of costs.
• Aid should be given according to need rather than limited to a particular
disaster – in the case of the tsunami response, people affected by conflict
should be included in aid responses.
• Strategies should be developed to ensure that women and marginalised groups
have full access to information.
• Women claim-holders should be represented in all decision-making bodies
6.2.4 Recommendation 3: Contribution to an enabling
environment and context
• Communities should be encouraged to develop their own contingency plans for
disasters and receive material support with the proviso that adequate
provision must be made for poorer and marginalised groups. This should
extend to a wide range of civil-society organisations including women's groups.
• National governments in disaster-prone countries should develop
comprehensive plans and procedures for disaster management, including the
management of information in order to ensure that communities are kept fully
informed at all stages of the response.
• They should also make plans not only for the establishment of a central body
to manage disaster responses but also to enable cooperation between
departments and between the centre and local government.
• Those responding to a disaster should ensure that full information about their
activities is available to all those affected, especially in local communities. This
might include public notices giving financial information, and public audits.
• Agencies should strengthen watchdog movements and support the mass media
to promote better understanding of the response and opportunities for
feedback and dialogue.
TEC Dec 2005 report
Their earlier report (Dec 2005) has been summarised on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsunami_Evaluation_Coalition#The_six_initial_findings :
The six initial findings
The TEC published an initial findings report in December 2005. These are preliminary findings based on initial reports from the more that fifty consultants involved in the field-work. It is expected that the final synthesis report will focus more on policy issues in the sector.
Relief was effective
The relief phase was effective in ensuring that the immediate survival needs were met, through a mixture of local assistance in the immediate aftermath and international assistance in the first weeks after the disaster. However, these relief responses were generally not based on joint needs assessments and were not well coordinated, leading to an excess of some interventions such as medical teams, alongside shortages in less accessible areas or less popular sectors such as water supply.
The scale of the generous public response was unprecedented, not only in the amount of money raised (about $14 billion internationally) but also in the proportion of funding from the general public, and the speed with which money was pledged or donated. The scale of the funding allowed an early shift to rehabilitation and the use of cash assistance programmes. It also acted as a giant lens, highlighting many of the existing problems in humanitarian response systems. The scale of funding also created coordination problems as it increased the number of agencies while removing some of the normal incentives for agencies to engage with coordination mechanisms.
Local capacity underestimated
Although local capacity is key to saving lives, this capacity is underestimated and undervalued by the international aid community as well as being overlooked by the international media. International agencies did not engage sufficiently with local actors, and assessed the skills of local actors relative to those of their own agency rather than in terms of skills appropriate to the local context.
Capacity of the humanitarian system is limited
The capacity of the international humanitarian system is not infinitely elastic. Despite the generous response to the tsunami, the appeals-based system for funding humanitarian emergencies is flawed, with a pattern of under-funding humanitarian response in general. This pattern of low funding for most emergencies limits the development of capacity within the international aid system, and makes it difficult for the system to scale-up to respond appropriately to a large emergency such as this.
Agencies focus too much on "brand" promotion
Agencies focus too much on promoting their brand and not enough on the needs of the affected populations. Agencies are still not transparent or accountable enough to the people they are trying to assist. In some cases agencies are also not sufficiently accountable to those providing the funding.
Recovery is proving far more difficult than relief
The recovery phase is proving a far bigger challenge than the relief phase. This is due in part to the greater complexity of recovery and to the demands that such complexity places on the aid agencies.