Livelihoods in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka: “Building Back Better”?

Research team

Edited by: Paul Steele


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A Workshop on “Livelihoods Post Tsunami: Build Back Better?” was organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) on 1st-2nd December 2005. The workshop brought together over 70 stakeholders from local and central government, civil society, donors and the private sector working on post tsunami livelihood issues. The workshop conclusions were that:

  • Livelihood recovery must focus on upgrading key sectors such as fisheries, tourism and small and medium scale entrepreneurs to achieve pro-poor growth
  • At the local level, economic recovery plans must be implemented led by poor households with local government and inputs from NGOs
  • To achieve national upgrading and local level economic recovery requires:
    • learning from and building upon past experience of poverty alleviation in Sri Lanka
    • placing livelihood recovery in a broader political, economic, social and economic context
    • overcoming mistrust and negative perceptions among key stakeholders
    • using improved knowledge of demand and supply of livelihood activities, and provide much greater voice for affected households
    • strengthening capacity of local government, affected households, NGOs and CBOs to plan, implement and monitor livelihood recovery programmes
    • improving the use of micro-finance as a tool for poverty reduction

Workshop Background
The workshop brought together representative of all the main stakeholders involved in livelihoods recovery from local and central government, NGOs, private sector and tsunami affected households.

The three main objectives of the workshop were to:

  • understand pre-tsunami causes of poverty in tsunami affected households in order to “build back better” post tsunami
  • link Sri Lankan researchers/ academics working on poverty reduction with NGOs and others working on restoring livelihoods
  • bring together people working on livelihood recovery from across country to improve communication between those from the field and those from Colombo

The workshop was organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) with funds provided by the ILO and UNDP to cover costs including simultaneous translation. It was agreed to translate and publish the workshop papers.

Table of Contents:

List of Tables

List of Figures

Executive Summary of Recommendations for Livelihoods to be Built Back Better

  1. Reviving Livelihoods After the Tsunami: Identifying Gaps in Existing Programmes
    by Kamal Kapadia
  2. Delivery of Tsunami Aid For Livelihood Development at the Community Level
    by Marit Haug and Chamindra Weerackody
  3. Some Issues and Challenges in the Fisheries Sector Reconstruction and Rehabilitation by Leslie Joseph
  4. Pre and Post Tsunami Issues Affecting Fishing Communities and the Challenges to be Addressed if “Build Back Better” is to Contribute towards Sustainable Livelihood
    by Steve Creech

Annex 1: Workshop Agenda

Annex 2: Workshop Participants

Annex 3: Notes on Contributors