Measuring impact: A cross-sectional multi-stage cluster survey to assess the attainment of durable solutions in post-tsunami Aceh, Indonesia

Christopher Lee, Shannon Doocy, Anwar Deli, Thomas Kirsch, William Weiss, Courtland Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: There exists little agreement on the choice of indicators to be used to assess the impact of humanitarian assistance. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami led to significant mortality and displacement in Aceh Province, Indonesia, as well as a nearly unprecedented humanitarian response. Six years after the disaster we conducted an impact assessment of humanitarian services rendered in Aceh using a comprehensive set of rights-based indicators and sought to determine modifiable predictors of improved outcomes in disaster-affected households. Methods: A sample of 597 returned and non-returned households in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh was selected using a multistage stratified cluster survey design. We employed principle components analysis and the Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons to develop a comprehensive and rights-based approach to humanitarian impact measurement using multivariate regression models. Results: The attainment of durable solutions was equivalent in both returned households 100.1 [CI] 97.63-102.5) and households that integrated elsewhere (99.37 [CI] 95.43-103.3, P = 0.781). Standard of living as well as education and health facility satisfaction increased significantly whereas monthly income decreased after the tsunami, from 2585241 IDR ([CI] 2357202-2813279 IDR) to 2038963 ([CI] 1786627-2291298 IDR, P < 0.001). Shelter (P = 0.007) and legal assistance (P < 0.001) were both significantly associated with positive durable solutions outcomes, whereas prolonged displacement duration was significantly associated with poorer outcomes (P < 0.001). Livelihood assistance received after one year was associated with higher odds of increasing or maintaining pre-tsunami income levels (OR = 3.02, P = 0.008), whereas livelihood assistance received within one year was associated with lower odds of attaining pre-tsunami income (OR = 0.52, P = 0.010). Conclusions: We find that after adjusting for pre-tsunami conditions and tsunami-related damages, the impact of sectoral responses can be assessed. The duration of displacement was the strongest negative predictive factor for the attainment of durable solutions, suggesting that measures to reduce displacement time may be effective in mitigating the long-term effects of disaster on households. The durable solutions framework is a novel and effective impact measurement tool and can be used to identify factors amenable to intervention and inform future disaster recovery efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1168
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Disaster
  • Displacement
  • Durable solutions
  • Human rights
  • Humanitarian assistance
  • Impact evaluation
  • Tsunami

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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