For Immediate Release
December 6, 2005

Despite Hardships, Affected Families Recognize Organizations for Service Excellence

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - While massive initial relief efforts were successful in delivering aid to millions of people affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami, there remains a significant decrease in livelihoods and household incomes in all affected areas, according to a follow-up survey of aid recipients. All respondents reported devastating losses in family income as a consequence of the tsunami. Survey results showed 83% of affected families in Indonesia had a decrease of over 50% of their family income, as did 59% of respondents in Sri Lanka and 47% in India.

Aid recipients were also asked to rate the agencies that provided effective relief in their area. The agencies who ranked top for service excellence are World Vision in Indonesia, Habitat for Humanity and Sewalanka in Sri Lanka and the government, World Vision and Social Need Education and Human Awareness (SNEHA) in India.

Undertaken by Fritz Institute, the survey report, Recipient Perceptions of Aid Effectiveness: Rescue, Relief and Rehabilitation in tsunami Affected Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka, included interviews with 2,300 people affected by the tsunami, including 1,000 people from 93 villages in India, 800 people from 98 villages in Sri Lanka and 500 people from the five most affected areas in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. This report, the largest inquiry of aid recipients' opinions, is the second part of a study that assessed the perceptions of rehabilitation efforts by governments and local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The study also asked affected families to retrospectively recall their satisfaction with aid delivery 48 hours and 60 days after the tragedy.

In addition to losing their livelihoods, the vast majority of families are still living in temporary shelters or camps. In Indonesia, 100% of the affected families are still living in camps or temporary shelters as are 92% in India and 78% in Sri Lanka.

"The voice of impacted individuals continues to be an important source in gauging the effectiveness of relief providers and understanding the outstanding needs of aid recipients during the rehabilitative process," said Anisya Thomas, Ph.D., managing director of Fritz Institute. "This study revealed distinct needs of communities, raised our attention to services not typically considered as top priority in relief planning, and called our attention to the importance of moving from donor-driven aid planning to practices that incorporate the needs of the beneficiaries in a significant way."

Affected families reported that the aid provided in the first 48 hours after the tsunami was mostly from local people and organizations. In Indonesia, 91% of the rescue services were provided by private individuals. In Sri Lanka and India, the corresponding numbers were 72% and 47% respectively. Local and international NGOs became increasingly important providers in the following days and continue to be essential to the recovery process.

"These results show us that the vast impairment of infrastructures made it difficult for organizations outside of the immediately affected areas to gain access to these communities," stated Fritz Institute director general Lynn Fritz. "Knowing the survivors of this disaster were the main providers of assistance in the first 48 hours casts a needs-driven light on how communities throughout the world need to prepare for disasters and increase capacity at the most local levels."

The survey also requested recollection of the experiences of the first 48 hours, for which satisfaction with the services provided varied widely by location across the countries. Indonesia reported low levels of satisfaction with food, water, clothing and medical care, while in Sri Lanka, most were rated as adequate, with food and medical care as above average, and India reported above average satisfaction with all of these services. When it came to the first 60 days, satisfaction levels in these best known relief services across the three countries moved closer to one another. Further, there were similar levels of satisfaction across the three countries reported for provision of shelter and lavatory facilities hovering around a score of "adequate".

The less publicly visible services proved to be particularly challenging. While there was great emphasis on providing food, shelter and clothing to those affected by the destruction of the tsunami, some critical issues received low satisfaction ratings. During the first 48 hours, families in all three countries rated counseling and burial of the dead lower than the other services. In many cases, they rated proper treatment of the deceased as being much more important than their own physical welfare. Ratings after 60 days showed improvement in counseling services provided to respondents in all three countries (in Indonesia, ratings rose from 1.35 to 2.29, in Sri Lanka from 2.93 to 3.19 and in India from 3.5 to 4.12). During the course of the study, aid recipients repeatedly mentioned the critical nature that counseling services played in their well-being.

There were variations across the three countries in the role the government and NGOs played in livelihood restoration programs and shelter provision. No provider rated as above average for livelihood restoration. Indonesia and Sri Lanka rated international NGOs as first among providers of livelihood programs and India ranked government slightly above the others. For shelter provision, Indonesia and Sri Lanka ranked international NGOs highest and government, international and local NGOs all rated adequate among India respondents.

"This study highlights the need to link preparedness and performance for effective disaster relief," Fritz added. "Fritz Institute is hosting a conference in Chennai, India on December 15 that will bring together all parties from the affected countries: donors, governments and NGOs, to share learnings with each other and recognize the best practices that were applied most successfully by local and international NGOs and governments."

About Fritz Institute
Fritz Institute addresses complex challenges in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people around the world by collaborating with the private and academic sectors to mobilize expertise, technology and resources. For additional information visit

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