Rebuilding life after the tsunami, Sri Lanka (WWDR2, 2006)

Click on the map to access a detailed view. Map prepared for WWAP by AFDEC.

The tsunami that occurred on 26 December 2004 was the biggest natural disaster to strike Sri Lanka, resulting in 38,900 deaths and 443,000 displaced people. It is also estimated to have orphaned hundreds of children. The disaster also severely damaged the local fishing industry and hurt agricultural productivity, infiltrating 10,000 ha with seawater. Groundwater has become highly saline and wells have filled with saline water. Infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, schools, water supplies and dwellings, have also been destroyed.

Ongoing research reveals that environmental damage to coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves reduced the capacity of the natural barriers to mitigate the tsunami force and thus intensified the destruction. It was observed that in the reaches where coral mining was rampant, the damage to the coast was severe. It was also observed that vegetated coastal sand dunes completely stopped the Tsunami waves in Yala and Bundala National Parks, and the damage occurred only at places where the dune line was broken by river outlets. Therefore, government and NGOs are in the early stages of planning to restore these barriers where possible with community participation.

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