Conference Paper

Social and Political Prerequisites for Recovery in Sri Lanka after the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

Chandra Godavitarne, Natasha Udu-gama, Mathini Sreetharan, Jane Preuss and Frederick Krimgold

Earthquake Spectra


On 26 December 2004, a devastating tsunami struck the coasts of 12 nations on the Indian Ocean. Over 300,000 people in 12 countries died in the wake of the tsunami, millions of housing units were damaged or destroyed, economies were devastated, and ecosystems were disrupted. The lessons from this catastrophe have worldwide implications, but the tragedies were local. Sri Lanka and the Aceh province of Indonesia suffered most of the casualties. The Sri Lankan experience illustrates that the recovery can be hindered by a country’s social and political conditions. Challenges to recovery include the need for centralized coordination and organization, planning and development control, gathering planning data, political leadership, equitable distribution of recovery assistance, and disaster education.

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