Tsunami left behind a wide trail of death and destruction
Lanka, the Indian Ocean island just raising its
head after more than two decades of internal conflict.
Two hours after the earthquake off
Indonesia, giant waves struck the long coastal areas
of Sri Lanka, impacting a total of 13 districts out
of 25. Over 31,000 people were killed, another 4,000
went missing, and nearly 1 million people were displaced.
Although tsunamis have reached Sri
Lanka in the historical past, the country has not experienced
a disaster of this type and magnitude for a very long
time. The scale of death and destruction severely traumatised
those who were affected, and shocked the entire nation.
The tsunami affected people of different
income levels, but most of the damage
was born by economically unstable groups living along
the coast -- such as poor fishermen living in simple
houses and shelters.
At the same time, the country’s
tourist industry suffered considerable damage, given
the concentration of resorts and hotels along the beaches,
a major tourist attraction.
People who serviced the fisheries and tourism sectors
also temporarily lost their livelihoods, creating deeper
poverty in regions that were already poor to begin with.
Many coastal infrastructure systems
such as roads, railways, power, communications, water
supply, sanitation facilities and fishing ports were
The government, private sector and
NGOs all launched relief and rehabilitation programmes
to help the affected people. Within the first three
months, the government has spent over Sri Lankan Rs.
350 million (US$ 3.5 million) on relief activities,
while an additional Rs. 2 billion (US$ 20 million) has
been allocated for future programmes.
Governmental efforts were complemented
by those of community groups, NGOs and the private sector
-- all of who mobilised themselves to provide food,
water and other basic necessities throughout the affected
areas. Given capacity limitations of government relief
services, it was NGOs and private groups administered
relief centres for displaced people.
Sri Lanka also benefited from massive
and rapid international humanitarian assistance. The
international response was both massive and quick, and
millions of dollars worth material has been donated.
On 6 January 2005, the UN
by launching a flash appeal to raise $ 167 million for
the recovery process in Sri Lanka. On 24 February, the
Bank announced a total of $ 150 million in
support of the country’s reconstruction.
Despite these and many other efforts,
there is still much to be done to help affected Sri
Lankan people, businesses and public systems to bounce
back to pre-tsunami levels.
For BBC Country
Profile on Sri Lanka, see: