On the 26thof December 2004 a Tsunami wave triggered by an earthquake of magnitude 9.5 in the Richter scale off the coast of Sumatra in the Indian Ocean hit Northern, Eastern and Southern coastal regions of Sri Lanka causing 40,000 human deaths, 500,000 internally displaced people and US $ 900 million worth of infrastructure and environmental damage. This is the biggest natural disaster in the country’s recorded history. Assistance rushed in from local communities, government, private sector, non-governmental organizations and international communities. A Centre for National Operations (CNO) was formed under the President as an initial step to coordinate relief efforts that came in. By November 2005 all government agencies working on tsunami consolidated into a single agency called Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA). This year marks the Tenth Anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Recovery from the adverse effects of a major disaster usually takes many years. Some issues are likely to linger on over a long period of time. Many studies have been undertaken following the disaster to ascertain the nature and extent of recovery from the disaster in terms of resettlement, restoration of livelihoods, recovery from mental trauma, community building, etc.
It is in view of the above, a key research initiative has been launched between Global Disaster Resilience Centre at the University of Huddersfield, UK, Social Policy Analysis Research Centre (SPARC), University of Colombo and Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka in taking the stock of the Tsunami recovery process in Sri Lanka. The main question that we pose is: where do the victims of the Tsunami stand today after ten years of the event? We attempt to answer this question in the light of qualitative data collected from a sample of communities in the Eastern and Southern provinces of Sri Lanka. We focus attention on a number of key areas. They are:
Key findings will be discussed at a workshop in Sri Lanka. This will be supported by a policy discussion with participation from key agencies such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Sri Lanka, UNHABITAT, the Department of Meteorology, the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, the Federation of Sri Lankan Local Government Authorities, UNDP, Red Cross, UNICEF, Swiss Development Cooperation, SDCWorld Vision and GIZ. A themed issue of a scientific journal in the field will also be published to mark the occasion.