News Archive

posted 06/17/05


Indian Ocean Tsunami Reports From the Field

Reconstruction and An Opportunity for Sustainable Development

May 9, 2005
The southern tip of Sri Lanka

By Guillermo Franco, Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio, Bijan Khazai and J. Carter Ingram

The reconstruction process offers many opportunities for advancing the goals of sustainable development and improving the lives of the poor beyond simply restoring their pre-tsunami conditions.

For instance, newly constructed homes could be built and sited in a manner that reduces vulnerability to multiple hazards, such as floods and cyclones, which are much more frequent than tsunamis. To do this, a holistic understanding of factors that promote social, ecological and structural resilience to a variety of hazards is necessary.

Matara, Sri Lanka

Kanna Sinna Kannu (right), a graduate student assistant from the Peradeniya University, Sri Lanka, and EI fellow Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio (left) talking with children displaced by the tsunami in Kalmunai. Photo credit: Bijan Khazai

Sustained and coordinated livelihood support programs also offer the opportunity to further development goals. It is clear that these programs need to go beyond just donating boats, motors and nets. Micro-lending, entrepreneurial training and other educational programs for both women and men are examples of sustained livelihood support that could lead to greater long-term economic development.

We fellows look forward to continuing our work with our new colleagues and friends in Sri Lanka to help identify other opportunities and pathways to sustainable development in the aftermath of this great tragedy.


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