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THE PUBLIC SECTOR ROLE IN A DISASTER SITUATION: AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS BASED ON TSUNAMI DISASTER ON 26TH DECEMBER 2004

Abstract

The devastating tidal wave, tsunami, that created havoc on the fateful morning of the 26thDecember 2004, was hardhearted to totally ravage almost the whole coastal belt of Sri Lanka, victimizing both dear human lives and properties worth of US$ billions. The calamity has caused severe psychological breakdowns in victims, which urge the need for continued and strong support based on empathy not sympathy. The major objective of this research paper is to determine the nature of role expected from the government sector agencies in a disaster situation. The normal public sector mechanism does not work in a disaster situation as usual. Therefore, public sector agencies should take necessary adjustment to suit the situation. Further, the paper reveals that the public sector agencies should be ready to work with Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and private sector agencies with a greater flexibility in any disaster. District Secretariat (District level administrative unit in Sri Lanka)-Galle, Divisional Secretariat (Divisional level administrative unit in Sri Lanka)-Hikkaduwa, Grama Niladhari Division (Grass-root level administrative unit in Sri Lanka)–Rejjipura, affected people in Rejjipura camp of displaced families, villagers in Rejjipura Grama Niladhari Division and other stakeholders were included in the sample of the study. The relationship between the role of the above public sector agencies and the improvement of quality of life of displaced families in “Rejjipura Camp of displaced families” (one of the tsunami camps in Hikkaduwa Divisional Secretariat) was studied with the view of analyzing the role of public sector agencies in a disaster situation. This study basically discusses the nature of adjustments that should be made to the existing (normal) public sector set up in each stage of the disaster cycle. As the theoretical framework, “the System Theory was used to analyze the role of each sub component of the public sector Mechanism in Sri Lanka. The observation of behavior of the affected people and behavior of officials, interviews with the affected people in the camp, villagers, officials and other stakeholders and meetings with the affected people, officials, villagers and the other stakeholders were used to collect data and construct cases. All the cases were based on a project, which had been implemented by the writers and, “case study method” was used to analyze the situations, identify administrative gaps in the existing public sector mechanism, determine necessary amendments to the existing public sector set up and conclude the nature of policy framework needed to handle probable disaster situations in the future.

Keywords: Disaster Cycle, Disaster Management, Networks, Public Sector Role, System Theory

 

For full Paper: fmscresearch@sjp.ac.lk


Author Biography

M.H.A. Sisirakumara

Lecturer, Dept. of Public Administration, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda (Sri Lanka)

M.K.D.W. Amarasinghe

Director (Personnel), President Security Division, Colombo (Sri Lanka)

H.T.K. Pathmasiri

Senior Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs, Colombo (Sri Lanka)