A report to the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) identifies lessons learned from the humanitarian response. Recommendations stress the need for national ownership and leadership of disaster response and recovery, improved coordination, transparent use of resources, civil society engagement and greater emphasis on risk reduction.
In the understandable rush to provide assistance to the survivors of the tsunami insufficient attention has been devoted to protecting the human rights of those forcibly displaced by the disaster.
At a meeting in the Maldives convened in April by the International Centre for Migration and Health, public health specialists from tsunami-affected states assessed lessons learned from the humanitarian response.
The tsunami has reminded us of the need for a rights-based approach to post-disaster reconstruction. If housing, land and property rights are put at the heart of a post-disaster plan – rather than cast aside as too complicated or expensive – the chances are that it will succeed. If these rights are ignored or, more ominously, systematically violated, not only will rights be abused but also reconstruction will fail.
Many aid practitioners have expressed concerns that the tsunami has diverted funds away from other emergencies. Similar fears arise whenever there is a ‘major emergency’ but are they justified?
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has now programmed approximately £68 million of relief assistance pledged in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Though the agency’s Humanitarian Response Review is not yet completed, preliminary lessons have been learned.