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Batticaloa crop losses: Will re-learning from natural disasters ever stop?

Jan 23, 2011 11:46:39 AM- transcurrents.com

by Lareef Zubair

Drawing on our studies of weather, climate, disasters and contributing to water management in Sri Lanka operationally for the last decade in Sri Lanka, there are some lessons and resources - unfortunately, in Sri Lanka,. as in other places, we just keep seem to be relearning them after every disaster whether it be the 1978 Cyclone and Floods, the 2001-2 drought, the 2003 Floods and Landslides, the 2004 Tsunami and now this.


1. As several commentators have pointed out, priority should be given to the regions that are most affected:

2. Regions with minorities should not be neglected as happened in the Eastern Coast during the 2004 Tsunami and the 1978 Cyclone in Batticaloa - Eastern Sri Lanka.

3. The past history of floods and the lessons learned should be implemented - this includes better governance, zoning, and flood risk warning. All too often there are "lessons learned" after each disaster - which are repeated.

4. The International Agencies that collect aid are not able to help develop local capacity to deal with floods and the local agencies have not upgraded their capacity in the last three decades.

5. There is a perverse set of incentives at work with the Disaster Industry - the more disasters there are, the more funding they get.


The Foundation for Environment, Climate and Technology (www.climate.lk) and a group of scientists/engineers the Earth Institute at Columbia University mapped the seasons and regions where there are frequent floods in Sri Lanka is during December-January - see

2. The current flooding has been most severe in the East - see maps at
http://fectsl.wordpress.com/ . This has been a region with the most catastrophic impacts of the Tsunami - indeed the flooding in January 2005 - a year with only slightly higher than normal rainfall retarded relief soon after the disaster. See postings at

3. The present flooding hazard exceeds many in the past. The rainfall
as pointed out here far exceeds that in the past.
See the details in the weekly report that is provided for Water Management in Sri Lanka athttp://www.climate.lk

3. The focus should be on vulnerability reduction - income and power inequalities in Sri Lanka militate against vulnerability reduction - see