Disaster Risk Management through Community Participation A Case Study of Ampara Coastal Area, Sri Lanka

M. S. M. Razik


Many large and small scale disasters such as landslides, floods, droughts,cyclones, epidemics, etc., have caused thousands of human deaths, displaced millions ofpeople and caused devastating impacts to the socio-economy and environment of SriLanka in the past and will probably do so in the future. Historically, disasters have beensupposed as isolated events and responded with „emergency relief‟ as the standardremedy after a disaster. Although, there were some disaster management initiativesearlier, they were mostly reactive emphasizing relief and recovery rather than proactivewith damage prevention or minimization strategies. Community participation in disasterrisk management efforts were not regarded as essential before, until 2004 tsunamidisaster. Therefore, this research study endeavors to analyze the communityparticipation in disaster risk management efforts in Ampara coastal region before andafter the 2004 December tsunami. The data and information for the research study wascollected through primary and secondary data collection methods and primary datacollection includes open-ended questionnaires and interviews. Qualitative datacollection method was mainly employed to achieve the objectives of the present study.

Many disaster risk management efforts and strategies came into Ampara coastalareas immediately after the devastating impacts of 2004 December tsunami as thisregion became the hardest hit region of the country. Most of these programmes wereinitiated mainly with the participation of the local and vulnerable communities andcommunity groups like school children, elders, women, fishermen, security forces,religious leaders, journalists, etc., with the involvement of other stakeholders likegovernmental organizations, grass-root organizations and INGOs. Disaster riskmanagement through sports, religion, school drama, exhibition, disaster mapping, mockgrills and evacuation programmes were some of the main programmes that wereintimated by both governmental organizations and INGOs in the area.

The study shows that community participation in disaster risk management andresilience programmes was very high immediately after the 2004 tsunami disaster.

However, there has been a decreasing trend in the community participation afterwardsdue to several reasons. Further, study reveals that local people had been used andpracticed their own traditional knowledge and methods in disaster risk management inthe past. However, they have received a proper knowledge and training especially after2004 tsunami disaster.

Key words: Disaster, Risk, Participation, Vulnerable and resilience


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