Sri Lanka: Making Peace with the Sea

Six months after the Asian tsunami, the emotional and physical damage is proving hard to repair. Far from putting aside political divisions, the island’s political forces are squabbling over how to distribute international aid. And instead of backing one extreme or another, the islanders are discovering the value of democratic diversity.

The World Today Published 1 July 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 4 minute READ

Charu Lata Hogg

Associate Fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme

Krishna Pillai Shanmugan stands on the starboard side of his old, damaged fishing boat gazing quietly at a shoreline dotted with dozens of other wrecked vessels and the mangled remains of houses. For five months he has been trying to gather the pieces of his shattered life after the giant December waves wiped out his entire fishing village, taking with them his wife, two children, his home and boat.

Shanmugan and his older son were among the few survivors in Navaladi, a village located on a sliver of sand between the Indian Ocean and a saltwater lagoon in the eastern district of Batticaloa. The devastating waves claimed two thousand lives in the tiny fishing community and flattened most of the single storey houses. Six months after the disaster, the wreckage remains and few have returned.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.