The Japanese Disaster Relief Expert Team concluded that Sri Lanka’s infrastructure is not strong enough to withstand a rainfall such as that experienced last month. Member of the team, akeya Kimio, told the Sunday Times that the country had not invested in coping with disasters of such magnitude and disasters were to be expected when [...]

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How to cope with disaster: Lessons from Japan

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The Japanese Disaster Relief Expert Team concluded that Sri Lanka’s infrastructure is not strong enough to withstand a rainfall such as that experienced last month. Member of the team, akeya Kimio, told the Sunday Times that the country had not invested in coping with disasters of such magnitude and disasters were to be expected when the country experiences a heavy rainfall.

The Japanese team at the site of a landslide in Kosgulana, Baduraliya. Pic by Indika Handuwala

The team handed over their report to Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa yesterday in Colombo. Mr. Kimo pointed out that the country has to use this disaster as a trigger and start investing in future disaster mitigation. “Use the Budget to make an investment. It is the only way you can be prepared for such disasters and form a safe and strong society,” he said. He added that even if it’s an environmental issue or investment problem, the government can only cope with the consequences if money is allocated in the Budget. In a way, he said, it would be like support from the people.

Some of the pre-disaster investment recommendations for the Sri Lankan Government were: early warning systems, methods for dissemination of information to remote areas, resettlement away from risk areas, hydro-meteorology and landslide observation systems, and investing in disaster risk reduction for sustainable development.

He pointed out that this disaster provided an opportunity for Sri Lanka to build a safer and more resilient country based on the ‘Build Back Better’ concept to prevent the same disasters happening in the same place every year.

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