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Tsunami Economic Toll Will Be Felt for Years

January 18, 2005

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The survivors of the Sumatra Tsunami, especially those in the hard-hit and war-torn Aceh province of Indonesia, will find tough economic times ahead. In addition to houses, clothing, and other personal belongings washed away by the devastating wind and waves, many people in Aceh also lost their livelihoods.

Whole villages were washed away, so it is not surprising that businesses disappeared as well. The fishing industry was particularly hard hit, with the heavy waves claiming not only much of the infrastructure of the industry but also many sailors and fishermen as well. Those have survived are trying to piece together a broken industry but are having little luck so far. The ports at which they used to ply their trade are gone, victims of the tsunami devastation. Many of the people who used to buy their fish are gone. And should they try to sell their fish in nearby villages, they find that task daunting as well because roads to those villages are, in many cases, completely unusable.

And it's not just the fishing industry that is in trouble. Every other kind of industry is facing daunting prospects as well. The people who survived are not only mourning those lost but also are trying to put their lives back together and get their houses (and belongings) back in order. The most important need for many people right now is food and clothing and peace; for many, all three of those things are lacking. Such traditional businesses as food stores and clothing shops are finding their feet again, if just barely; but other high-profile shops like automobile repair businesses are finding the going rough. In many cases, their inventories have been depleted but their expenses have not.

It is an example of how people rebuild their lives by concentrating on absolute necessities first.

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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