Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Rapid recovery in tsunami ravaged north and the east

News and Press Release
Originally published

Government Spearheads Drive in Reconstruction

- 52% of Houses Reconstructed

- 73% Tsunami IDPs Rehoused in Permanent Dwellings

SCOPP Report

Sri Lanka has made remarkable progress in restoring normalcy in Tsunami affected areas of the North and the East. Reconstruction and recovery activity under the aegis of the Government has been rapid. Majority of the displaced has been returned to their homes. and their livelihoods restored. The memory of the disaster is gradually fading. It is being replaced by the brighter things that life has to offer to the unfortunate victims.

Overall the recovery has demonstrated the Government’s good will and genuine commitment towards the well being of its people irrespective of considerations of race, religion or creed. Today members of the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala communities in the North and East are the proud beneficiaries of the Govt.’s efforts in restoring their livelihood and homes.

Tsunami Destruction

Overall in the North and the East, 77,900 houses were destroyed by the Tsunami. 40,696 new houses have up to date been re-constructed. This figure represents 52% of the requirement. Work is in progress in respect to reconstruction of 28,027 houses. This figure combined with the houses already completed totals a percentage of 88% of the houses required to be built.

The reconstruction of houses in Tsunami affected areas of the North and the East has registered a success rate of 88 % compared to the national average of 67 %. The statistical details of the re-construction effort are set out below under the sub–heading ‘Permanent Housing’.

A breakdown of the re-construction of houses in various Tsunami affected Districts in the North and East is as follows:

The 2004 Tsunami was catastrophic. It claimed 35,322 lives islandwide, injured 21,441, and orphaned 1,500 children. Over 500,000 people were displaced and many more indirectly affected. Around 100,000 houses were damaged or destroyed and over 150,000 people lost their homes. 2/3ds of the country’s coast line was ravaged. The damage was estimated to be 4.5 of the GDP.

Sri Lanka Recovers

Despite the effects of Tsunami and the rise in oil prices the economy grew by 6% in 2005 and 7.4% in 2006 and it is forecast that Sri Lanka will record a growth rate of 7.5% in 2007. Sri Lanka had an outstanding year in 2006 with overall unemployment declining by 6 .4 %, exports growing by 8% whilst the country was able to attract over 2 billion US $ in foreign remittances. The FDI inflow exceeded 500 million US $ thereby highlighting foreign investor confidence in the resilience of the Sri Lankan economy.

Displaced move out of transitional shelters into reconstructed permanent homes

73% of the Tsunami IDPs living in temporary shelters in the North and East have been rehoused in permanent dwellings.

No. of Tsunami IDPs in temporary shelters as at Dec. 2005 - 43, 496

No. of Tsunami IDPs in temporary shelters as at February 27, 2007 - 11, 764

Permanent housing

While the Government played the primary role in reconstruction, development partners, civil society and private donors made a significant contribution. 76,586 houses out of the 114, 069 houses that were partially or fully damaged have been re-constructed at a 67 % achievement level.

The Eastern province has witnessed the completion of 36,141 houses at a 59% achievement level whilst the Northern province has registered an achievement level of 28% despite the impediments of incessant terrorism and conflict affecting the building and construction industry in the North.

Restoring livelihoods:

An estimated 150,000 people lost their livelihoods as a result of Tsunami damage, including workers in fisheries (50% total jobs lost), service sector (45%) and agriculture (5%). To date, livelihoods restoration has been via cash grants, cash for work, asset replacement, and micro-finance systems.


The Ministry of Health and Development Partners have been successful in preventing the outbreak of disease among affected populations in the initial Tsunami aftermath and over the past two years. The Government of Sri Lanka also developed a National Policy in Nutrition that defines the overall nutrition strategy of the country including response in time of disaster. A National Mental Health Policy was approved and is under implementation and efforts to develop national disaster response capacity through the National Health Sector Emergency Preparedness plan and establishment of a trauma secretariat.


School attendance of children previously enrolled at Tsunami damaged schools and schools damaged through use as IDP camps has been brought back to normalcy through establishment of temporary buildings, repair of damaged structures or temporary arrangements for children to attend nearby functioning schools. Reconstruction of directly damaged schools (total 183) is making marked progress and 57% schools are in various stages of re - construction.


Mechanisms and campaigns for strengthening the prevention of abuse, exploitation and neglect of children and women in Tsunami affected areas were developed and Disaster Relief Monitoring Units Helpdesks have been established in nine Tsunami affected districts to monitor services and address grievances. Achievements also include the establishment of four Social Care Centres while 15 more Centres will be open to the public in April 2007.


The Tsunami road recovery initiative aims to provide a reliable, durable and safer road system in the Tsunami-affected areas. 5 major bridges on A2 road i.e. bridges linking Kalutara to Matara at Akurala, Seenigama, Magalla, Goyyapana and Weligama have been completed and the Eastern Province bridges such as Koman bridge and causeway (A004), Koddaikallar Causeway (A004), Kallady bridge (A004) and Oddaimavadi bridge (A015) are in progress.


Losses include buildings, officers, quarters, workmen dwellings, gate huts, parapet walls, culverts, etc. 75% of the buildings have been reconstructed and the renovation work in respect to the rest is in progress. The damaged railway track on the coast line, Trincomalee line and Batticaloa line were restored within two months after Tsunami. 40% of the damaged signal system has already been restored.


The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) was able to restore power supply within two months after the Tsunami; however the requirement of providing power connections to the relocated housing programme has increased its role. CEB has so far connected power supply to 17,928 new Tsunami-affected households.