The additional funds
requested by President Bush for reconstruction efforts in
countries devastated by the December 26, 2004, tsunami have
been released by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget
An Indonesian father, his son and a U.S. military
officer prepare to leave by helicopter for the
hospital ship USNS Mercy for medical attention.
Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International
Development Andrew Natsios announced Thursday,
June 23 in Washington the release of $901 million
in funds to support reconstruction efforts for
tsunami survivors. (U.S. Navy photo)
OMB is the part of the White House that
assists the president in overseeing the preparation of the
federal budget and supervises its administration in executive
branch departments and agencies. Andrew Natsios, administrator
for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
made the announcement at a press briefing at the U.S. State
Department June 23.
Natsios said the $901 million in additional
funds will go for programs in four major areas: large-scale
road and bridge reconstruction; vocational and trade education
to replace the expertise lost when thousands of teachers
were killed; training for the additional construction workers
needed to rebuild their countries; and programs to help
rebuild the critical fishing and tourism industries in the
devastated countries. Most of the projects are in Indonesia
and Sri Lanka, the countries that were hit hardest by the
Work for some of the major road and bridge
reconstruction projects is expected to begin this summer,
Ambassador Douglas Hartwick, senior coordinator
of the Tsunami Reconstruction Task Force, also briefed.
He explained that $656 will actually go to USAID efforts
to the stricken countries because the U.S. Department of
Defense is being reimbursed for its relief efforts in the
immediate aftermath of the disaster.
Hartwick said $16.6 million of the total
would be devoted to building tsunami early warning and disaster
response capability in the region. He also noted that Americans
contributed $1.3 billion through private entities and nongovernmental
Hartwick said he was encouraged by the transparency
and accountability exercised in the disbursement and use
of relief funds so far, adding that the governments of the
affected countries have responded with efficiency and responsibility.
Among the citizens of the tsunami-hit countries,
energy and determination to rebuild has returned, Hartwick
observed. The shock and numbness is largely gone, he said.
For additional information, see U.S.
Response to Tsunami.
Following is the State Department transcript
of the briefing:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
June 23, 2005
U.S. Agency For International Development
Administrator Andrew Natsios
Senior Coordinator For Tsunami Reconstruction Task Force
Ambassador Doug Hartwick
On U.S. Assistance And Reconstruction Efforts
Six Months After The South Asian Tsunami
June 23, 2005
(9:47 a.m. EDT)
MR. ERELI: We're pleased to have with us
today Andrew Natsios, the Director of the U.S. Agency for
International Development, and Ambassador Doug Hartwick,
the Senior Coordinator for the Task Force of -- the Tsunami
Reconstruction Task Force -- excuse me -- our two officials
who are really shepherding what the U.S. Government is doing
to respond to the crisis six months ago, the disaster six
months ago, that struck the Pacific after the earthquake.
They're here to give us an update on progress
made in those six months, both in terms of relief but also
equally important, in fact, more importantly, in terms of
long-term reconstruction. So we'll have Andrew Natsios kick
it off with some overview and facts and wonderful charts
and then Ambassador Hartwick will talk a little bit about
some of the political dimensions of this and then answer
So thank you and welcome to our two guests.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Thank you very much.
It is not just that the six months is -- the six months-semi
anniversary, so to speak, of the tsunami is taking place,
but that the congressional notification for the plan that
we submitted to Congress has just -- the 15-day waiting
period just finished on June 21st. And this week, OMB is
now releasing the funds to AID to begin obligating money
to spend so that, literally, it's this week that we begin
the expenditure of the funding from the tsunami supplemental
budget that was submitted by the President. The tsunami
supplemental was with other programs in the -- Iraq and
it was the supplemental that went through on May 11th, the
President signed on May 11th.
And what I want to do today is describe
what's in the plan and what we're planning to do and what
the timetable is from here on out.
There are essentially four elements to the
way in which we'll spend this money. Now, the total amount
is $901 million that was appropriated. So the total appropriation
for the United States Government for relief and reconstruction
is $901 million. Some of that is to reimburse for what was
spent earlier this year from disaster funds. The question
had come up earlier: Are we taking money from other emergencies
around the world, emergencies in Africa, for example, in
order to fund the tsunami response? Because the funds that
we have in disaster response are not allocated by region
or country. Congress gives them to us and we spend them.
And so what's happening now in this budget is we will reimburse
the $131 million that has already been expended from the
time of the tsunami until now on relief and rehabilitation.
The President pledged -- in fact, I announced
the pledge at the Tsunami Reconstruction Conference, pledging
conference in Geneva, Switzerland, I think it was in January.
The President instructed us to do extensive assessments
with the World Bank and the United Nations, which we've
done; and as a result of that, a much higher appropriation
bill was submitted, $901 million, which is what we're now
spending. So of the $901 million, some of that is to reimburse
DOD for the money that they spent for the large logistic
operation that they undertook.
About $950 -- I'm sorry, $656 million will
be used by AID and our partner organizations on reconstruction
and rehabilitation. Let me go through the four elements
The first is large-scale infrastructure
reconstruction. We will be rebuilding -- helping to rebuild
the Banda Aceh Meulaboh Road in Indonesia, which is a 240-kilometer
road project. I think there's 110, 120 bridges on that road,
so this is a large infrastructure project. It was severely
damaged during the tsunami and the earthquake. So, I mean,
people think there was just a tsunami. There was an earthquake
that caused the tsunami and that did damage to the infrastructure
in the interior of the island beyond just what damage the
tsunami itself did. The road will be rerouted from along
close to the water so that we won't have a repetition of
We are also doing a large reconstruction
project in Sri Lanka, which is to repair the damaged bridge
over the Arugam Bay, the mouth of Arugam Bay.
The second element of this is vocational
training and education. For example, a thousand teachers
were killed by the tsunami in Banda Aceh and so there is
a huge gap in terms of what's needed in the schools to bring
the schools up to what they were before. So we are working
with the Ministry of Education in Indonesia to build two
new state-of-the-art vocational schools and repair eight
severely damaged vocational schools. We will also work on
training teachers through the Aceh University to take the
place of those who were killed during the tsunami.
And the third element is to train more workers
in the construction trades, particularly because we need
more construction workers because of the reconstruction
effort. This will help activate the economy and stimulate
more economic activity locally because it will provide jobs
to people, and people who get salaries will then spend that
money and it will move the economy along.
The third element of this program is the
economic growth and jobs program, and that involves the
fisheries industry and the tourism industry, which, as you
may know, in several of these countries is quite significant
in terms of their proportion of the economy.
We started a micro-enterprise program to
do micro-lending to smaller enterprises and to individuals,
many of whom are women, so that they have some way of supporting
themselves. We will be working in vocational training for
women in particular. We are also -- we've been doing cash-for-work
programs where we're trying to get money into the economy
by providing day labor to people. We have also begun what
are called vouchers and credit programs for firms trying
to replace assets that were damaged during the tsunami or
destroyed during the tsunami.
And finally, Peace Corps will use former
volunteers mobilized through what's called the Crisis Corps
to assist in reestablishing fisheries and business in Thailand
and supporting reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka.
The fourth element of this is in capacity
building. This is a huge undertaking. Billions of dollars
are going to be spent in these countries and some of the
systems are not in place or have not been in place in these
countries to manage that amount of money in a reconstruction
program of this complexity. And so we're working to ensure
that systems are in place through the ministries to protect
accountability and transparency. For example, in Aceh we
are launching a $15 million technical assistance recovery
project to support government agencies in the reconstruction
effort. For one example of how we're doing that is the General
Accounting Office, the GAO here, has some fine experts in
this area and we are having -- we are going to pay for one
of the technical experts from the GAO to be a -- to live
in the area and advise the Indonesian Government on tsunami
And finally, we're working with local governments
to establish an online portal for tracking and information
sharing so this is all done in a very transparent way.
So the four elements, once again, are: large-scale
infrastructure; vocational education and training; economic
growth and jobs; and finally, transparency, accountability
and capacity building. That's the program.
In terms of the sequencing of this, we actually
went out to bid for the contracts, for one of the contracts,
in April for the construction management firm that will
oversee the construction. Not the actual construction contracts,
which won't be let till later because we're doing the technical
and engineering work right now, but the oversight contract
was put out to bid in April.
We are also now -- in May we started --
we began the solicitation of the Sri Lanka technical assistance
and construction management program. We began in April a
$20 million program that was going to be reimbursed out
of this to jump-start the reconstruction program and then
we expect by July more PVO and NGO awards will be made to
begin the smaller-scale reconstruction.
There's going to be a quick-start element
to the road reconstruction that will be done very rapidly
to open up 80 kilometers of this 240-kilometer highway that
needs to be reconstructed. The groundbreaking for the quick-start
repairs on this road will be by the third week in August.
And finally, there will be a bid by December;
the specifications will be ready for the construction contracts.
AMBASSADOR HARTWICK: Thank you, Mr. Natsios.
Well, good morning. You know, I'm very pleased to be able
to participate, really, in the six-month anniversary talking
about the Indian Ocean tsunami assistance and talk about
some of the important work we've been doing.
Under President Bush's leadership, the United
States is making an important contribution to the massive
international response to help victims. The United States
-- we've been proud to have been able to offer assistance
immediately following the tsunami and we were there for
the relief phase and we'll continue to be there as the reconstruction
projects get underway, as Administrator Natsios has just
My role as the Tsunami Reconstruction Task
Force Coordinator has been gratifying to see the United
States Government follow through on its commitments with
full support from the U.S. Congress as it passed the President's
funding for tsunami relief and reconstruction.
Our response to the unprecedented tragedy
reflects the fact that Americans worldwide were deeply moved
by the images we all saw in the days and weeks following
the disaster. Collectively, the American people, the Bush
Administration and Congress came together to pledge and
are now delivering immediate and long-term assistance, as
Mr. Natsios has mentioned. Public sector contributions have
been significant. Private sector contributions, some still
coming in, have exceeded public contributions by over two-to-one.
The region affected include many close allies
and friends of the United States. It's in America's interest
to see that we help them recover quickly and that the scars
heal as soon as possible. Thus, we are seeking to assist
them on a bilateral basis and we are contributing to other
collective international efforts. And we're looking to see
how we can help to prevent such a tragedy from reoccurring
by sharing regionally our experience and expertise in early
warning and community response capability.
Indonesia, as you know, was probably the
worst affected country, but it's also a country coming through
enormous political change over the past decade. And I think
it's been very important for us to want to support that
effort. President Yudhoyono, recently elected in October
2004, was faced three months later with the tsunami crisis,
and so we've endeavored to do the best we can to help support
that fledgling democracy cope with this tragedy and deliver
the necessary support to their own people.
Thailand, a treaty ally, again shocked by
what happened to them on the western coast, themselves also
went through an election shortly thereafter. We've been
very impressed by their ability to take their own problems
in hand and seek to lead their own reconstruction with very
little outside assistance.
India, again, we worked closely with India
right from the day -- early days on. India, despite having
its own disaster along its coast in the southern portion,
was quick to lend a lot of support to neighboring countries
such as Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and were pleased to
be able to work with them and we will continue to help them
in their reconstruction effort, as necessary.
Let me note, we're also impressed by how
the affected countries themselves have coped with the tragedy.
The affected governments and communities have undertaken
complicated assessments and completed ambitious plans to
rebuild. In looking forward, the next challenging stage
of reconstruction is just getting underway. If you had a
chance to visit Aceh or the affected coastlands of Sri Lanka,
India or Thailand, you'll realize just what an enormous
challenge is posed for these countries ill-equipped to deal
with the tragedy of this scale.
The hard reconstruction lies ahead, not
behind us. And we, the international community, must follow
the leads of the governments and local communities themselves
as they rebuild.
We've been also encouraged by the pledges
of desire to spend these monies and plan for reconstruction
in a transparent and accountable manner by all the governments
in question. We take these pledges seriously and I think
that'll be important in the period ahead as this massive
reconstruction effort gets underway.
The significance the United States attaches
is reflected in the high-level visits that have occurred
ever since the tragedy happened. If you'll recall, and I
think Administrator Natsios went with Secretary Powell and
Governor Jeb Bush back in January, we had Deputy Secretary
Wolfowitz follow a few weeks later, Presidents -- former
Presidents Bush and Clinton visited in Thailand, Indonesia,
Sri Lanka and Maldives in February. And they played a critical
role in the United States and really around the world, I
think, to generate support for private sector contributions.
Deputy Secretary Zoellick made a visit in
early May, in particular to Indonesia, which was the worst
hit, and visited Aceh to sort of see firsthand himself how
the process was underway and how we can continue to help.
And when he returned, literally the day he got back, he
participated in the private sector summit here in Washington
on May 12 where he came and shared his views and talked
about the challenge ahead.
In the last couple months, we've have President
Yudhoyono from Indonesia come and visit President Bush and
many of us here in Washington, in addition to other senior
officials, foreign ministers and so forth from Sri Lanka
and Thailand. So this sort of two-way exchange shows, I
think, in part, the importance we attach to all of this.
I think another area that's very important
to us from the U.S. Government standpoint is trying to facilitate
coordination among the private sector actors and players
who want to assist, NGOs and the private business community
as well. This is an unprecedented situation, as I said,
with over $1.3 billion in private money being made available
to assist in the reconstruction. Encouraging coordination
between these groups and with tsunami-affected governments
and tracking how these funds will be spent will continue
to be a high priority.
Having twice visited the tsunami-affected
countries, I can testify to the magnitude of the destruction
and devastation that impacted families, communities, livelihoods
and economies. While certainly much remains to be done,
I can say that the shock and numbness has passed and people
are actively working to rebuild. Their resilience is evident
when you visit now. I can see an energy and a glimmer in
the eyes of people that were not there the first time we
As President Bush said on January 3, "Americans
have a history of rising to meet great humanitarian challenges
and providing hope to suffering peoples. As men and women
across the devastated region begin to rebuild, we offer
our sustained compassion, our generosity and our assurance
that America will be there to help."
As with the passage of the supplemental,
we are certainly moving to make sure that reconstruction
help is on the way.
Thank you very much. And I guess we'll take
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Are there any questions?
QUESTION: Are you any closer to developing
an early warning system for that region, similar to the
one that's in the Pacific with (inaudible) Hawaii? Are you
spending any significant amount of money --
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: There's an allocation
in this $656 million for that. There have been international
meetings held on it at conferences. I think, Ambassador,
you went to one of the conferences, did you not?
AMBASSADOR HARTWICK: I did.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: If you want to comment
AMBASSADOR HARTWICK: This region is not
benefited by any kind of regional or international warning
system, so clearly that's been one of the extremely hot
pressing needs that everyone agrees they have to get going
on. It's not easy to do that quickly. The United States
is one of the few countries in the region of the Pacific
that have been operating a tsunami warning system for some
years. I attended a conference that we sponsored under the
auspices of APEC to bring together really a lot of the senior
technical personnel from all the tsunami-affected countries
and then many of the APEC delegations as well. I think some-odd
20, 21 delegations were there, 180 people or so.
There, we talked about the whole issue of
the technology behind it, how best to kind of strengthen
the early warning capability and the short-, medium- and
longer-term shared plans of who's doing what; talk about
what we're doing. The delegations had a chance to visit
the tsunami warning center there in Honolulu. And then we
pledged our support to do the best we can to help them make
progress, even in the months ahead here, I think, to step
up their capability for warning and response.
And I think as Mr. Natsios said, we have
dedicated $16.6 million in the current supplemental just
for tsunami early warning and community response. The international
dimension to this is very important. UNESCO and the Intergovernmental
Oceanographic Commission really helps -- oversees what we're
doing in the Pacific and they need to play a critical role
in all this too as the region comes together.
QUESTION: But is there any such warning
system in place now? Even a fragment of one?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: There is not one
for tsunamis. There is one in place in Bangladesh that we
installed in the 1980s for typhoons. I might add, this is
not a high -- this was very unusual to have a tsunami in
the Indian Ocean. If you look at the historical record,
this was a very unusual event. What is very common are typhoons
and so there's -- I have been urging our staff and the interagency
(inaudible) of scientists to try to get public attention
focused when they all know this is the case, that the typhoon
risk in the Indian Ocean is much higher.
Four hundred thousand people died in a typhoon
in Bangladesh in the 1970s and we installed with the Bangladesh
Government this earning warning system which is connected
to the National Weather Service weather satellites. And
that was used in 1991 to evacuate 5 to 6 million people
before a typhoon struck that ended up killing a couple hundred
thousand people, would have killed 5 or 6 million people
if we had not had the system in place. So we need to focus
our attention not just in the tsunami early warning, but
storm early warning, because that is a greater risk in the
AMBASSADOR HARTWICK: In fact, the conference
in Hawaii was called "All Hazards." It wasn't
MR. ERELI: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up on that. There
was an early warning system, I think, from the U.S. which
detected the tsunami kind of a wave that just after the
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: That was the -- we
have an earthquake center in the U.S.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: I don't think they
predicted a tsunami. They predicted -- they simply reported
on the magnitude of the earthquake that caused the tsunami.
There's a difference.
QUESTION: And this was after the main attack,
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: This was after the
event. Any earthquake that takes place of any magnitude
in the world, our National Geographic Survey can tell you
where it took place and the amount -- the level of the earthquake
fairly quickly. And that's what they use -- there is an
early warning system for tsunamis in the U.S. along our
QUESTION: But how was it, because of the
time lag that failed to really get world attention on the
first attack? How has this been -- how have amends been
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: You can have an earthquake
early warning system, but it will not tell you whether or
not a tsunami is going to occur. Tsunamis are unusual anywhere
in the world, but as I said, particularly unusual in the
Indian Ocean. They have to take place a certain place with
certain geological formations before a tsunami can actually
begin after -- in the aftermath of an earthquake.
There is no way of predicting that a tsunami
was going to take place, given the current state of instruments
in the Indian Ocean. The idea would be to put some buoys
in place that are designed specifically to take data from
the ocean and then transfer it into an alarm system in communities
so that people can start evacuating if the earthquake looks
like it's going to start a tsunami. And that's what they're
debating. They're debating basically the buoy system, the
alarm system and the evacuation system.
QUESTION: It's being debated?
MR. ERELI: Well, it's being -- not debated.
It's being discussed and planned.
QUESTION: But it seems the thing to do?
MR. ERELI: Oh, it is the thing to do. Yes.
QUESTION: Do you happen to have -- I don't
know, this wasn't the purpose of the briefing -- what I
suppose would be about as final figures as there are for
American losses -- missing? Did we ever --
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Do you know, offhand?
QUESTION: I don't know if you've brought
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: I didn't bring it
QUESTION: It's been a long time.
MR. ERELI: It hasn't changed since the last
time we announced it. I'd have to go check the --
QUESTION: No, it's all right. So there's
MR. ERELI: No change.
QUESTION: Okay, thanks.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: To be clear, this figure of $656
million is that essentially the new money that's being brought
to the --
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: The -- no. The $131
million we've already spent will be reimbursed out of the
$656 million. But that money is not Pentagon money. The
Pentagon money is the difference between the $901 million
and the $656.
QUESTION: So that --
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: So $656 is the civilian
money. And of that, $131 million has already been expended
and will be reimbursed.
QUESTION: Oh, I see.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Yes. During Secretary Zoellick's
visit to Jakarta (inaudible), he mentioned that AID would
be working closely together with the Supreme Audit Agency
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Yes.
QUESTION: With Mr. Kuntoro leading the agency.
AMBASSADOR HARTWICK: It's not the auditing
agency. That's the implementing agency.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: It's the Reconstruction
QUESTION: Right, right. Now. So far, have
you -- until this moment, have you experienced any difficulties
working closely together with that agency?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: We were very pleased
with his appointment. Our staff, we have a very large AID
mission that precedes the tsunami in Indonesia. They knew
of his reputation, they've worked with the members of the
government before, and we have very high levels of cooperation
now. We're very pleased with the work we're doing with the
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Thank you all very
AMBASSADOR HARTWICK: Thank you.