How long will it take to get South Asia back to what it was before last week’s tsunami?
Most likely: a generation. Note this AFP report:
The drive to help nearly two million desperate survivors of Asia’s tsunami catastrophe made inroads on Monday but aid groups warned the worst-hit communities would take "a generation" to rebuild.
The sheer scale of the disaster wrought on 11 countries across Asia and Africa by the December 26 undersea earthquake has shocked even hardened relief workers, who fear that many areas will never get over the tragedy.
"I can only compare it to Europe after the Second World War," said World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello who has been working in Sri Lanka where at least 30 000 people died and where villages were wiped out.
"It’s going to take a generation" to rebuild the affected nations, he said.]
Indeed, when I was living in New Delhi as a student and later writing for newspapers on India and Bangladesh in the 70s, South Asians had a dream: that their part of the world would enjoy the tourism bonanza enjoyed by Spain, the United States and other countries. Develping tourism — with a particular push to attract the European market — was a prime goal.
In recent years these countries — Sri Lanka in particular — seemed to be making great progress towards their goal. Poverty was hardly wiped out, but the tourists — and foreign money — was pouring in. A huge investment into infrastructure was put into the tourism sectors of these countries.
But now, it’ll take years to rebuild that industry not only because of damaged facilities but almost certain tourist fear that another tidal wave will hit the area again.
Still, the tourism facilities can be replaced and the tourists are likely to trickle back, especially if some kind of advance tsunami warning system is put in place and tourists hear about it. But it’ll be a slow trickle.
Some things, though, can’t be replaced — like the one-third 1/3 of the 150,000 victims who were children.
It’ll take a generation to recover……and South Asia lost a chunk of its cherished younger generation when the merciless waves swept its shores.