Shocks, recovery trajectories and resilience among aquaculture-dependent households in post-tsunami Aceh, Indonesia

Aquaculture-dependent households in Bireuen District, Aceh, Indonesia, have in recent years endured repeated, diverse shocks; multiple economic shocks, shrimp disease, civil war and the 2004 Asian tsunami. Following the tsunami, extensive international aid efforts were directed at aquaculture pond rehabilitation. Yet, the pitfalls of simply recreating a system that was run down, underperforming and environmentally damaging due to the ongoing effects of multiple previous shocks are clear. Research reported here is one component of an action research project aimed at rebuilding improved, sustainable systems. The diversity of shocks experienced provided an unparalleled opportunity to look at the range of impacts and coping mechanisms employed at the household level. Detailed analysis of factors affecting rebuilding and recovery strategies from shocks highlighted the importance of diversification across multiple livelihood characteristics, as well as the multi-dimensional nature of diversification itself. Diversification in household livelihood strategy, aquaculture species availability and market options for aquaculture produce were all important factors contributing to recovery and resilience. The “distance” (degree of difference) among diversified options was shown to be critical in building resilience.


Mills, D.J., Adhuri, D.S., Phillips, M.J., Ravikumar, B., Padiyar, A.P. (2011)
Local Environment 16(5): 425-444