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FAO developed a land damage classification system to be used for prioritisation and determining appropriate strategies for recovery. The classification system was primarily developed for the Indonesian situation, as here and in the Indian islands land damages were most extensive (see comprehensive damage assessment)

Initially three classes were distinguished, based on a gradation of damage. but soon a fourth class (D) had to be added: land permanently lost to the sea. A (visual) introduction to the classification system is presented below:

Class A | Class B | Class C | Class D |

Class A: Minor Damage; return to normal without interventions

This class includes fields for which return to cultivation is achievable rapidly without major interventions. It obviously depends also on precipitations occurred since the sea floods or availability of intact irrigation and drainage systems.
Five weeks after the disaster some farmers had already replanted on least damaged paddy field as shown in the picture on the right.

Some Class A fields needs to be cleaned but this can be obtained with a minimum of interventions.

Class B: Medium Damage; return depends on specific interventions

This type of field requires more work to recover, for cleaning the debris, salt leaching as well as land levelling. It might take some months before being able to return to cultivation under constraints, for instance with salt tolerant varieties.

Class C: Severe Damage: Return to normal dependent on
major interventions (C1) or not achievable (C2)

This class includes fields severely damaged, by erosion, debris, deposit and destruction of structures

For this category there are major obstacles to a rapid reclamation and one or several cropping season is out of reach. Methods for reclamation still need to be investigated and may have to be tested out on pilot areas first.

In some cases (C2), the return to cultivation might even be discussed and alternative production activities from natural resources use and management (eco-systems) may be sought for these coastal lands, while compensating current landowners and helping them reorienting/diversifying their activities on other land or other productive activities.

This class also includes fields flooded by brackish water for several weeks since the disaster due to improper drainage

Class D: Land completely and permanently lost to the sea

There are fields and areas along the West coast of Aceh and on the Indian Islands that have merely disappeared. There is no longer land or land is permanently covered by sea water. This category of land is permanently lost and there is no remediation except that compensation of land owners and relocation of activity elsewhere.

 contact: tsunami@fao.org © FAO, 2005