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The Road to Recovery

Author: Joshua Kurlantzick, Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia
February 5, 2010
Newsweek

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As rescue workers frantically try to save Haiti's injured, comfort its newly orphaned children, and prevent full-scale riots over supplies of food and water, few have had time to ponder the country's long-term reconstruction. Yet it is during the very early days of relief efforts that the foundations for a successful-or disastrous-long-term recovery are laid. Fortunately, there is a recent example of reconstruction success to build upon. In December 2004 I was in southern Thailand when the tsunami hit, devastating not only Thailand but also Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia. With bodies piling up on beaches and shellshocked survivors searching for relatives, it seemed hard to imagine a return to anything like normalcy. Yet within a year, most of southern Thailand looked as though nothing had happened, and five years after the tsunami, even Aceh, the place hit hardest, had rebuilt its infrastructure, integrated local people in the reconstruction, and ended a decades-old civil conflict that had killed at least 15,000 people.

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